Bishop welcomes Inquiry's exposure of immigration detention inadequacies

While he says there is "still a way to go", the chair of the Bishops' Committee for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Joseph Grech, is optimistic following the Palmer Inquiry's finding that Australia's Dention Centres are "ill-equipped to deal with the mental health and well-being needs of detainees".

Bishop Grech said the Report "has highlighted serious mental health issues within the immigration detention regime".

"The report resulted from the detention of Cornelia Rau (pictured), and is the last of a number of inquiries that have found that Detention Centres are ill-equipped to deal with the mental health and well-being needs of detainees"," he said.

"The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) should concentrate on improving its role in the refugee determination process. It should ensure that care of asylum seekers, including children and the mentally ill, is the responsibility of qualified practitioners," he continued

Bishop Grech welcomed the fact that the Prime Minister, both personally and on behalf of the Government, had apologised to Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez, the person who was wrongfully deported to the Philippines. He also extended his sympathy to the two women.

He expressed the hope that the palmer Report would present yet another occasion for the Federal Government to review the policy of mandatory detention. A start was made recently due to the efforts of the Hon Petro Georgioiu and other members of the Government.

"But there is still a way to go", he said. "The Government should cease to ignore the viable and effective alternatives to detention that various people have been proposing for a number of years. These alternatives are well-developed, and can help solve the serious problems of the present mandatory detention system."

Meanwhile PolMin (the Australian Political Ministry Network Catholics lobby) has called the Report a "shocking indictment on a deeply flawed system".

"Yet, with its limitations, the Palmer report did not and could not go so far to question the appropriateness of mandatory detention. His recommendations, whilst welcome, will not give the system the overhaul it needs," said coordinator Regina Lane.

"It has simply reaffirmed the urgent need for a full judicial inquiry into mandatory detention. Palmer found a system that failed "a person who desperately needed help". Yet this is a system built to respond to asylum seekers who seek exactly that: our help and protection. "

"The current system of mandatory detention, proven to treat 'unlawful non citizens' as 'non persons', should be abolished, she said. "Recent changes have left this disgraced system well intact. PolMin supports alternative solutions proposed by welfare professionals, which allow asylum seekers to live in the community, after health and identity checks are made".

Palmer Inquiry highlights immigration detention inadequacies - Catholic bishop (Australian Catholic Migration and Refugee Office 15/7/05)
Failed detention system must go, says PolMin (PolMin - Australian Political Ministry Network Ltd 15/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic MIgrant and Refugee Office
Australian Political Ministry Network

Friday Forum (ABC TV Lateline 15/7/05)
Rau speaks out (ABC TV Lateline 15/7/05)
Rau calls for closure of detention centres (ABC Radio PM 15/7/05)
Palmer Inquiry highlights immigration detention and mental health services inadequacies in Australia (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 14/7/05)
Editorial: Jail won't cure the mentally ill (The Australian 18/7/05)
School turns out to celebrate Mentors good news (The Border Mail 12/7/05)
A chance to help (The Southern Cross, July 2005)
Calls for return of deported Australian (Catholic Leader 3/7/05)
David Marr: Passport to madness (The Age 17/7/05)
Calls to get mentally ill out of jails (news.com.au 16/7/05)

18 Jul 2005