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Does the Australian Government Immigration Detention Policy Comply With Mental Health Laws

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DOES THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S IMMIGRATION DETENTION POLICY COMPLY WITH DOMESTIC AND/OR INTERNATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH LAWS? Submission date: 29 July 2011 Word Count (3542) Table of Contents 1 Introduction _______________________________________________ 1 1.1 1.1.1 Australian Government Immigration Detention Policy ____________ 1 Sub-policies ____________________________________________________ 2 1.2 Mental health impact of immigration detention: literature review ___ 3 2 3 4 5 Relevant in
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   DOES THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S IMMIGRA TIONDETENTION POLICY COMPLY WITHDOMESTIC AND/OR INTERNATIONALMENTAL HEALTH LAWS? Submission date: 29 July 2011Word Count (3542)  Table of Contents 1    Introduction _______________________________________________ 1   1.1   Australian Government Immigration Detention Policy ____________ 1   1.1.1   Sub-policies ____________________________________________________ 2   1.2   Mental health impact of immigration detention: literature review ___ 3    2    Relevant international mental health laws _______________________ 5   2.1   Compliance with international mental health laws ________________ 6    3    Relevant domestic mental health laws ___________________________ 8   3.1   Compliance with domestic mental health laws ___________________ 9    4   Conclusion _______________________________________________ 13    5    Bibliography ______________________________________________ 16    Table of Figures  Figure 1: Australian Government’s seven key immigration detention values 2   Figure 2: Irregular Maritime Arrival numbers 1990-2010 4   Figure 3: International laws relevant to mental health impact of immigration detention 6    Figure 4: Domestic laws relevant to mental health impact of immigration detention 9   Figure 5: Map of Australia's immigration detention facilities 10    Research paper: “  Does the Australian Government’s immigration detention policycomply with domestic and/or international mental health laws?”   1 1   INTRODUCTION This paper will provide an evaluation of the extent to which the Australian Government‟s current immigration detention policy (the policy) complies with domestic and/orinternational mental health laws.In the early 2000s there was growing antipathy from Australian human rights advocatesto immigration detention. Around this time the  Migration Act  (1958) was amended tocreate an excised migration zone and the mandatory immigration detention policyintroduced by the Keating Government in 1992 was retained. 1 Overtime changes to theMigration Act and the policy resulted in asylum seeking men, women and children whoarrived irregularly by sea, spending long periods of time in detention and many of themsuffering from a range of very serious mental health issues, in particular self-harm,untreated psychiatric illnesses and in some instances suicide. 2  In 2003 and 2005 systemic errors lead to the unlawful immigration detention of twopersons - Vivian Alvarez Solon, an Australian citizen, and Cornelia Rau, an Australianpermanent resident. Both persons suffered from mental health issues. 3  Soon after these events a new government was elected and one of their electioncommitments was to reform the immigration detention system to ensure the mental healthcare of immigration detainees was paramount. 4 The aim of this paper is to analysewhether the current government has successfully achieved their reform objectives. 1.1   Australian Government Immigration Detention Policy The current immigration detention policy, the „New Directions in Detention‟, wasannounced in July 2008. This policy outlines „seven key values‟ which aim to tak  e arisk-based approach to the management of people in immigration detention. The government‟ s seven key immigration detention values are outlined in Figure 1 . 5   1    Migration Act  1958 (Cth). 2   Human Rights Commissioner, „A Report on Visits to Immigration Detention Facilities‟,  Australian Human Rights Commission (2001), viewed 22 July 2011, www.hreoc.gov.au. 3   Claire O‟Connor QC, „The impact of detention on the mental health of detainees in immigration detention: the implications of failure to deliver adequate mental health services  –    who cares?‟,  Dame Roma Mitchell International Women’s Day Lunch (2007), Melbourne. 4   Department of Immigration and Citizenship, „Key Immigration Detention Values‟, © Commonwealth of  Australia (2008), viewed 18 July 2011, www.immi.gov.au. 5 Ibid 4.  Research paper: “  Does the Australian Government’s immigration detention policycomply with domestic and/or international mental health laws?”   2 Figure 1 : Australian Government’s seven key immigration detention values 6   1.1.1   Sub-policies Sri Lankan and Afghan processing suspensionIn response to a spike in irregular maritime arrival (IMA) numbers, on 9 April 2010 theAustralian Government announced a processing suspension of three months onSri Lankan and six months Afghani asylum claims for those who arrived irregularly bysea. The goal of this targeted suspension was to stem people smuggling activities bydelaying processing at the Australian end, therefore making it less attractive to seek anirregular passage. 7 All arrivals effected by this suspension remained in detention duringwhich time no advancement was made on assessing their claims during the suspensionperiod. 6 Ibid 4. 7   AAP, „Immigration clampdown: processing asylum claims for Sri Lankans and   Afghanis suspended‟, Sydney Morning Herald  (9 April 2010), www.smh.com.au.   1.    Mandatory detention is an essential component of strong border control.2.   To support the integrity of Australia's immigration program, three groups willbe subject to mandatory detention:a.   all unauthorised arrivals, for management of health, identity and security risks to the community unlawful non-citizens who present unacceptable risks to the community, and b.   unlawful non-citizens who have repeatedly refused to comply withtheir visa conditions.3.   Children, including juvenile foreign fishers and, where possible, their  families, will not be detained in an immigration detention centre (IDC).4.    Detention that is indefinite or otherwise arbitrary is not acceptable and thelength and conditions of detention, including the appropriateness of both theaccommodation and the services provided, would be subject to regular review.5.    Detention in immigration detention centres is only to be used as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time.6.   People in detention will be treated fairly and reasonably within the law.7.   Conditions of detention will ensure the inherent dignity of the human person.

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Apr 10, 2018
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