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“THE detention of asylum seeker children is a form of child abuse, a parliamentary inquiry in Darwin has been told. Federal politicians heard there were severe mental health problems among young immigration detainees in the Northern Territory, including the case of an unaccompanied nine-year-old admitted to hospital after attempting suicide.

”Detention of asylum-seeker children and their families is a form of child abuse,” the Australian Medical Association’s Peter Morris told the inquiry into the troubled immigration detention network. When Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked Dr Morris why he used the term child abuse, Dr Morris replied that the damage was institutionalised, and it was a system being imposed on the families.

There are 119 children in immigration detention at Darwin Airport Lodge, including 58 unaccompanied minors. Another 10 Indonesian child crew members are held at Berrimah House in Darwin. The children are being detained despite it being federal government policy that children should be housed in the community while awaiting protection visa outcomes.

Dr Morris said a third of the children were suffering from depression, and the association wants the detention of children limited to three days only…

The immigration health service provider, International Health and Medical Services, had recognised the worsening situation and had requested that more psychiatric services be provided to Darwin detainees, she said. Royal Darwin Hospital said 33 detainee children under the age of 16 had been admitted…

Immigration officials also confirmed that 75 unaccompanied children will be moved from Christmas Island to the Leonora detention facility, 830 kilometres north-east of Perth, this week.”