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HREOC backs Adelaide Centacare on asylum-seeker children's suffering

A Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission report due for release on Tuesday will show many asylum seeker children suffer from mental health problems including anxiety, bed-wetting, nightmares, emotional numbing and suicidal thoughts.

"I don't think that report will be able to say anything that surprises me because the degradation of people generally, but children in particular, is something that we have long known about," Adelaide Centrecare director Dale West told The Australian.

The report, produced by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and likely to be released next Tuesday, will also reveal these children have been exposed - without protection - to the use of tear gas and water cannons, head counts day and night and periods when they were known only by numbers.

"Calling the kids by numbers putting adults in the same sleeping quarters as seven-year-old girls, children being lost in the system, the use of handcuffs when they were being sprayed were all stories that we have had confirmed over and over again."

Centacare has supported for numerous young people released from detention including the five Bakhtiyari children, who currently live under house detention in an Adelaide suburb, eight months after being released from Baxter detention centre near Port Augusta. Mr West said withdrawn behaviour, sudden outbursts and interrupted sleep were symptoms Centacare workers saw in children who had been in detention but had been released into community detention.

Asylum-seeker children's suffering revealed (The Australian 7/5/04)

HREOC denounces Govt policy of placing children in detention centres (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Labor says Govt should rethink detention centre policy (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Ruddock stands by detention of children policy (ABC Radio AM 6/5/04)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Children's release from detention "unlawful" (CathNews 30/4/04)

7 May 2004