IMPACTS OF MANDATORY DETENTION - rise in deaths, illnesses, self harms, and the impacts continue post-release in greater numbers. MORE DEATHS TO COME.

Human Rights Alliance Press Release: August 19th 2011 The Australian Medical Assocation, following others, such as the UNHCR and the AHRC has supported our calls and our personal witness that Mandatory Detention has grievous traumatic and deleterious impacts and effects upon those whom come before it.

We have long warned of Detention Centre Deaths and these are a contemporary phenomena on the Australian landscape, with six Detention Centre Deaths in the last eleven months, with five of them suicides. More deaths will occur. However the impacts of Mandatory Detention must be understood not only in terms of pre-release however post-release where it is quite evident that there shall be more post-release deaths in the equivalent periods following release.

Australian Mandatory Detention has a grotesqute prison like design principle and the modality of this prison design principle is not contemporary however harks to Australian prison designs of more than six decades old. I have visited prisons and Detention Centres, and I have met with Asylum Seekers who spent up to a year in Detention Centres and who have spent a year in Australian prisons and sadly they describe the Australian Prison experience 'a hundred times better' than the Detention Centres and especially when compared to Christmas Island, Darwin and Curtin Detention Centres. They say, "at least in prison we have something to do and courses to do and the staff are kinder and more caring..." And yet Australia has one of the world's worst prison deaths in custody records and yet they describe Mandatory Detention a hundred times worse!

Mandatory Detention leads to the manifest of various clinical disorders, various depressions, acute, abject and chronic, various physical and mental breakdowns, unflagged medical attention which advances various conditions to the irreparable. Mandatory Detention is undermined by its prison like principles, by the fact that it incarcerates peoples rather than assists their Seeking of Asylum, that reflects upon them the libellous image of criminality. Mandatory Detention languishes a systemic divisiveness between peoples, dissociates peoples, manifests various paranoia, psychoses, various social phobias which do not cease one people are released.

The negative impacts of Mandatory Detention are evidenced post-release by the high number of disability claims, the high number of people seeking psychosocial counselling and psychiatric help, by the high number of people who are not immediately employable, by the high number of various social phobias.

Mandatory Detention has a claustrophic effect, and can lead to the onset of acute clinic disorders where people exhibit paranoia, catatonia, hebephrenia and hence the onset in some of various schizoid and schizophrenic conditions. People are going out of Mandatory Detention worse than what they came in - and this ensures a legacy of burdens to the individuals, their families, and to the Australian health communities.

In the least Mandatory Detention can induce agoraphobia, evident in many of those post-release.

Mandatory Detention is inferior even to the prison system as it employs personnel who are inadequately trained, who lack various knowledges and who hence can have a harrassing and intimidatory effect upon those incarcerated in detention. Many personnel who work in Detention Centres were employed thereabouts from 'Centrelink queues' without various what should have been requisite training.

Many stressors affect Asylum Seekers, and these include the whole concept of imprisonment, of being cut off from various communities and their suite of rights, of the clandestine natures of Australian Mandatory detention that inhibits unfettered access to advocates, professionals and the media, of unflagged medical attention, of distrust, that their cultural identity is perceived as a liability, and other stressors include various racisms and various perceived oppressions while in the detention centre experience. Stressors that must not be mitigated in any way include the fear of the unknown - whether they will be returned to their homelands and where they fear they will be persecuted or killed (they are all aware of people deported who have been murdered), how long they will be in detention, whether they will be accepted on their first or second interviews or on appeal. The process is critically unhealthy and is causal to mental dissociations or the manifest of hysteria and the onset of various meltdowns including panic disorders, neuroses and much worse.

It appears that most Asylum Seekers try very hard to keep themselves together however at the one year mark there appears to be a threshold that is reached where they do breakdown mentally and physically, where the fear of the unknown overruns them.

It is dramatic that a Mental Health Nurse was sacked from Darwin's Northern Immigration Detention Centre for commenting that Mandatory Detention has an adverse effect. This Nurse is correct. It is an indictment of the clandestine nature of the system that she has been sacked.

I keep in contact with hundreds of Asylum Seekers in Christmas Island, Curtin, Darwin, Scherger Detention Centres however also in Leonora, Perth, Banksia, Marybedong, Inverbrackie and Villawood and I can attest to the endemic negative impacts, and that they will continue post-release.

Scherger Detention Centre will resume hunger protests if promises are not kept, people are emotionally emaciated.

Curtin Detention Centre is a nightmare in waiting, with people breaking down daily, and its remote, clandestine location plays on the minds of all those incarcerated for far too long which include more than two years.

There shall be more Detention Centre Deaths, there shall be continuing rises in self harms, traumas and multiple traumas, suicide and multiple suicide attempts and sucides and deaths from unnatural causes. There shall be even worse post release and this shall be legacy, a scandal-in-waiting, similar to the brunt of the burden borne of the Stolen Generation.

Let us understand that at Christmas Island Detention Centre people were burying themselves in shallow graves, this is the manifest of meltdown and mental abberations, Mandatory Detention is doing this to them.

Gerry Georgatos
PhD Law researcher, Australian Deaths in Custody
Convener, Human Rights Alliance



I don't understand why detention is so bad now, when people spent years and years in detention since the 70s and mental afflictions and destructive behaviour were unheard of. What's changed? Surely it's better than what they came from. Doesn't anyone reassure them that if they are truly in danger back home, that they won't be sent back there?

I disseminate at a rate of 'as fast as I can', however the following:

Mandatory Detention is inferior even to the prison system as it employs personnel who are inadequately trained, who lack various knowledges and who hence can have a harrassing and intimidatory effect upon those incarcerated in detention. Many personnel who work in Detention Centres were employed thereabouts from 'Centrelink queues' without various what should have been requisite training.

should read:

Mandatory Detention is inferior even to the prison system design principle and labour resource management and skill set criteria, and Mandatory Detention Centres employ significant numbers of personnel who are inadequately traineed, who lack various knowledges and who hence as a result of their lack of training and lack of various expertise manifest harrassing and intimidatory effects upon those incarcerated within detention. These personnel are in effect victims of the protocols and practices that guide them, hire them and strand them. Many personnel who work in Detention Centres were employed thereabouts from 'Centrelink queues', found the work by contracted Centrelink Job Providers, who they have to attend in terms of 'employment pathway programs' which are for instance "Newstart Allowance" criteria. They fill the Labour demand and supply needs of for instance SERCO who have the Commonwealth Contract to operate the Mandatory Detention Network and even though there are staff to Asylum Seekers ratio issues there are fast tracked ill trained and under trained personnel employed who do not have the capacities and experience to flag various medical attention, who lack crucial interpersonal skills, who do not have any expertise in de-escalation and who have instead an adverse and deleterious effect upon our Asylum Seekers, and when some of them cannot cope with what is expected of them they produce a disastrous effect upon our Asylum Seekers.

I have met personnel in Community Detention and Maximum Security Detention Centres, and some have told me themselves they came from such a pathway, many strike me as caring people however many of these same people inadvertently or openly degenerate to aggressive and intimidatory stances towards our Asylum Seekers and hence contribute to negative health outcomes. It is a vicious cycle.

The above statements are not anectodal however my sources are various personnel and various leaks in Detention Centres who some are also at Client Service Management level.

I remind readers that in recent weeks a Mental Health Nurse was sacked from Northern Immigration Detention Centre for commenting on her truth about the horrific effects of Mandatory Detention. I know for a fact from personnel employed to work for SERCO and at Detention Centres that training limited to less than a month's effort is mostly about protocols and in effect about keeping a clandestine process out of the wider community's attention, they are essentially scare mongered into keeping secret from the world what should be reported, and in effect elimimating all propriety in terms of duty of care responsibilities.

It is up to SERCO and DIAC to refute and prove otherwise that they do not hire, in order to meet labour demands, under trained, ill trained folk from Centrelink. They are not doing any body any favours including the folk who have been tossed in from short and long stretches of having been unemployed and into the fire and brimstone. Prisons demand aptitude tests for many of their personnel, various experiences and other demonstration, and provide for various professional development and support.

This is Clockwork Orange stuff!

DIAC and the Government know these problems exist - the compensation claims that will be brought on will be voluminous and to go by the near 100 claims thus far totalling more than $7 million AUD well thousands more to come and with the health burden, physical and mental, that Australian society will face from the trauma suffered by our Asylum Seekers, many of them current and future Australian Citizens, we are looking at this Government, thanks to the brutality of Australia's keystone Mandatory Detention system and thanks to profiteers such as SERCO, at billions of Australian dollars. It is one thing for SERCO to claim it wants to manage hospital and transport services, and I do not believe they are best suited, however there are no excuses for them, other than the profit motive, to dab their hand into administering and managing the unlawful Detention Centre system that has been set up to demonise peoples and to divide Australians.

Shit Gerry, good on you, keep up this phenonenal work.

Gerry, you should be Prime Minister. Why aren't people like you at the helm?