Fifteen years of detaining children who seek asylum in Australia - Evidence and consequences

Sarah Mares

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Objective: To review and summarise the evidence about and consequences of Australia's policy of mandatory indefinite detention of children and families who arrive by boat to seek asylum. 

    Methods: This paper will summarise the accumulated scientific evidence about the health and mental health impacts of immigration detention on children and compare methodologies and discuss the political reception of the 2004 and 2014 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Inquiries into Immigration Detention of children. 

    Results: The conclusions of the 2004 and 2014 Inquiries into Immigration Detention of Children are consistent with Australian and international research which demonstrates that immigration detention has harmful health, mental health and developmental consequences for children and negative impacts on parenting. 

    Conclusion: The evidence that prolonged immigration detention causes psychological and developmental harm to children and families and is in breach of Australia's human rights obligations is consistent. This is now partially acknowledged by the Government. Attempts to limit public scrutiny through reduced access and potential punishment of medical witnesses arguably indicates the potency of their testimony. These harmful and unethical policies should be opposed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-14
    Number of pages4
    JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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