On 14 December 2010, the Australian Human Rights Commission released a statement on the policy and practice of mandatory immigration detention following a visit to immigration detention facilities in Darwin which house 'high numbers of families with children and unaccompanied minors' for extended periods of time.
In her statement, Commission President Catherine Branson QC said she was concerned about the impacts prolonged detention were having on the health, education and psychological needs of children.
Ms Branson said the Commission continued to have serious concerns about Australia's mandatory immigration detention system, in particular, the increasing length of time people were spending in immigration detention and the impacts of prolonged and indefinite detention on people's mental health.
'The Commission met with a number of people in detention, including children, who had experienced significant trauma in their home country or who had attempted self-harm while in detention,' Ms Branson said.
'The Commission continues to call on the Australian Government to reconsider the mandatory detention system. People should only be held in immigration detention if there is a risk that justifies detaining them, she said. 'If no such risk exists, they should be allowed to reside in community-based alternatives to detention while their refugee claims are assessed.'
The Commission's full statement is at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/human_rights/immigration/idc2010_darwin.html