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Apr 15, 2010

'Dishonest' Rudd puts detainees' mental health at risk

The current direction of Rudd's asylum policies will not only damage the mental health of detainees, they will further damage our well-being as a nation, says child psychiatrist Dr Jon Jureidini.


Senator Chris Evans’ quiet humanisation of the treatment of asylum seekers has always been at risk because it has come about without substantial changes to the laws that underpinned the extremities of the Howard/Ruddock regime.  Now Evans’ achievements have been undermined by the current prime minister’s populist moves.

First, Kevin Rudd joined the tabloid chorus of condemnation of people smugglers. When people become strident in attacking people smugglers, there seems to be a sub-text that the people smuggled are not welcome.

It is no longer accepted for politicians to vilify asylum seekers, or plausible to claim that they are terrorists, and these “traders in human misery” are an alternative target.

Many smugglers may be exploitative and even murderous, but presumably there is a range of motivations — wasn’t Schindler a people smuggler? Arguably the private prison operators who administer the Christmas Island centre also profit from human misery.

Now the prime minister has suspended the processing of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. People will be detained for many months, although even those who are not found to be legitimate refugees have committed no crime by seeking asylum. Christmas Island is not Woomera; nevertheless prolonged detention creates the risk of serious mental illness.

Once a core of detainees has spent too long in detention, the atmosphere in the centre will deteriorate. We can predict a surge of protest, some of it self-destructive, giving way to despair. If this is allowed to persist, permanent damage will follow.

Many of us working in mental health saw first hand how refugees were harmed through prolonged detention. Documentation of this harm is freely available to government and community. The psychiatric label varied — major depression, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder — but our inhumane treatment of asylum seekers was toxic for those we detained, for those commissioned to detain them and for our society as a whole.

Rudd’s moves represent a return to the ethic of using detention as a deterrent, but seek to do it nicely.  The announcement exemplifies the absurdity of claiming the middle ground on moral issues.

In the interests of reducing short-term political risks, the government has created an unsustainable false compromise, seeking to find a space where none exists between truly humane and ruthless.

Rudd lacks the honesty of Amanda Vanstone and Philip Ruddock when, as minister for immigration and attorney-general, they boasted that locking up children was justified because it deterred boat people.

It is hard to see an outcome of the current political direction that will not damage to the mental health of detainees, and further damage our well-being as a nation.

Dr Jon Jureidini is a child psychiatrist with 10 years of experience working with immigration detainees — children, adults and families. He visited Baxter and Woomera many times.


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35 thoughts on “‘Dishonest’ Rudd puts detainees’ mental health at risk

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Not to mention that giving refugees a ride is not people smuggling or trading in humans as the clowns keep whining on and on about, it is simply providing transport as our own courts have said over and over again. We have sent refugees to jail for helping their families come to Australia and to call it people smuggling is a complete lie and always was because under Australian law and international law no-one is smugged into the country.

    They simply obey the law, arrive without documents because they cannot get any and present immediately to the authorities.

    In fact is was Vanstone who said in February 2000 estimates ; Senator McKIERNAN—I am talking particularly about the boat people. They are the
    people who arrive on our shores – mainly on Ashmore Islands – and who put their hands up
    and say, ‘Find me, find me! Take me in.’ They do not use these exact words, but they want to
    be found. These are not people who are escaping the scrutiny of our Coast Watch people.
    Senator Vanstone—Senator, I cannot resist! Perhaps you could tell Mr Beazley that so he
    does not keep raving on about this silly idea that we need a Coast Guard to locate the people.
    You at least realise that they want to be found; it would be helpful if your party realised that
    as well.

    Pretty clear, no one is hiding, they are looking for help.

    Of course the cretins in this country are claiming now that seeking asylum is people smuggling and illegally using the people smuggling protocol to defend their position.

    Except as they know very well the protocol has nothing to do with refugees, does not over ride the refugees convention or protocol and using breaches article 31 of the convention and Australia’s migration act which enshrines article 31.

    Jon is right, they pretend to demonise the non-existent smugglers and no matter how many times the reality and facts are presented to our useless frigging media and parliament the babble about people smuggling goes on unabated.

    When an Afghan is forced to flee they are asylum seekers, they remain asylum seekers at all times and they rarely turn into smuggled migrants being harshly exploited as these clowns claim.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    And it is going to cost $337,000 per person to keep them locked up outside process for 6 months if they are Afghans and then it will suddenly be discovered that they are Hazara shi’ites like all the others and they are just refugees.

    How stupid.

    And Jon, Rudd is not just dishonest he is a blatant liar.

    And the media go silent like a pack of sheep because he claimed seeking refugee status is something to do with country conditions when it is not and never has been.

  3. Rush Limbugh

    How many Australians are in favor off less immigration by any means neccesary I think is the pertinent question.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    No it is not Rush, refugees are not fucking migrants.

  5. shepherdmarilyn

    Pretty words by now silent cowards

    Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (3.10
    pm)—I am pleased to rise in this debate and take up the points that Senator Fierravanti-Wells has raised. One point she raises is that the government has lost control. What hypocrisy from an opposition whose deputy leader describes that opposition as ‘a rabble’— something I have been describing the opposition as for some time. I am glad the deputy opposition leader now
    agrees with my view of the opposition as a rabble.

    This issue is a complex and important one. The issue of asylum seekers fleeing from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan will be an ongoing problem for this community, this nation and the United Nations. I just want to bring this debate back to exactly what we are
    talking about. We are talking about refugees. We are not talking about illegal immigrants; we are talking about refugees. Look at article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—and I note that earlier Senator Cash was talking about how she analysed this.
    Well, Senator Cash is a lawyer; I am not sure if she has looked at article 14 recently. It says:
    Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
    People who are persecuted are entitled to seek asylum
    The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, provide a definition of the term ‘refugee’.
    The definition is that a refugee is someone who: … owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or … unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country …

    This is about people who are in trouble. This is about people who are fleeing wars, who are fleeing persecution in their own country. And what do we have from the opposition? We have the lowest common denominator— the fear factor. When you do not have a policy, when you do not have any ideas, when you have no way of dealing with the issue, start a fear campaign!

    And that is typical of the opposition: a fear campaign against the weakest, most vulnerable people in the world—refugees. You should be ashamed of where you have taken this debate, because this debate should be about ensuring some fairness, some dignity and some
    protection for people who are fleeing war zones, are looking for protection and want to ensure that they can be safe from persecution in the country that they are fleeing from.

    But it is so easy when you are a rabble to actually adopt the rabble approach, and the approach of the rabble is not to think the issues through; the approach of the rabble, which is the coalition in this place, is to go after the weak and exposed. It is to make sure that you hide your incapacity to develop a policy on the treatment of refugees coming to this country, to make sure that you hide your incapacity to formulate a policy of fairness and equity and of treating refugees with dignity.

    The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Kimoon, has spoken about intolerance. Let me tell you that the coalition’s intolerance has been on show for the public to see. Your intolerance is reprehensible.
    Your intolerance is borne of no capacity to develop policy. Your intolerance is an absolute disgrace to this country. (Time expired)

    Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (3.20 pm)—There is often debate in this chamber. Because there is an opposition and a government, often that debate has differences of opinion. It can be quite aggressive from time to time, but I must say I have never contributed in a debate in this place that has actually sickened me like this debate. What really sickens me is the approach of the opposition in the way they attack some of the most defenceless and vulnerable people, who are not here illegally. They are here because they are seeking asylum.

    If it is proved that they are not genuine refugees and therefore here as illegal entrants, they are moved away. But the most defenceless people come here seeking refuge—refuge from some of the most hideous and sickening circumstances that exist in the world today.
    The political opportunism, the absolute low road, of the opposition does this country no credit, it does this Senate no credit, it does our people no credit and it makes me sick.

    We had to hear Senator Fierravanti-Wells ask, ‘Why do people arrive without documents?’ and go on and make the suggestion that people who arrive here without documents have destroyed them.

    Then she asked ‘What sort of people are they?’ What Senator Fierravanti-Wells should understand is that people arrive here more often than not with only the shirt on their
    back. The reason they have fled is that they have been displaced, and they have been displaced because their village may have been burnt to the ground or their whole family may have been murdered.

    Maybe those are their circumstances. Maybe they have just been moved on in packs by either military regimes or dictatorships or any of the other horrendous circumstances that millions and millions of people find themselves in, through no fault of their own. Instead of any semblance of compassion, all we get is the opposition attacking the weak and the vulnerable. I think it is a disgrace.

    They should take a long, hard look at themselves. We heard Senator Back in his question today make the absolute suggestion that this process is about terrorism importation. Really, come on. Get a grip. The process of checks that goes on at Christmas Island involves
    security checking and health checking. It is the same format that is well established in this country. It was going on under the previous government and it has not changed. It has not changed.

    Senator Fierravanti- Wells knows that because we went through this in Senate estimates for hour after hour and that was the evidence of all the officials and the minister. She knows the facts but conveniently leaves that out and again simply takes the low road—the politics of dog whistling. It is shameful. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Senator Cash of course introduced the issue of queue-jumping. Well, she really took us back. She started quoting John Howard. I love it when they quote John Howard now because they pretend he has gone and then they go and quote his ideas. It was all about
    queue-jumping—again accommodating the lowest common denominator argument. If you want to actually have a mature debate about these issues then you
    really should get a grip on some of these issues and understand what the serious push factors are—the fact that there are 42 million displaced people in the world at the moment. And you want to run those lines.

    Senator MARSHALL—Well, you tell me where all those queues are, Senator Cash. When a village is burnt to the ground and people are moved on, and they are desperate to go, are you saying that they should gohalfway around the world to get in some non-existent queue? Really, it is a silly argument.

    It is not done to actually have a serious debate about these issues; it is done by resorting to the lowest common denominator, trying to evoke emotional support for their low-road politics. Through all of this, did we hear Senator Fierravanti-Wells actually suggest what
    the coalition might do on any of these things? She talked about some of the changes we have made, and I wish I had time to go through those things. But all the changes we made were ultimately supported in this place by the coalition. Every single one of them was supported by the coalition. We make no excuse for treating the most vulnerable people in this world with
    humanity. We do it in a properly regulated, tough manner— where if you come here seeking asylum, you are treated with dignity; and if you are here illegally, you get deported. (Time expired)

  6. Rush Limbugh


    Its a long way from Sri Lanka/Afganistan ect?

    Why did these assylum seekers choose Australia?

    Why not the countries inbetween?

    Why not indonesia?

    If they have family here, I understand that,

    But why Australia I suppose is my question. Plenty of good countries allot more cultually similar to Afganistan/Sri lanka etc along the way..

    Actually according to UN conventions Assylum seekers have fuflilled that title when they reach another country that provides relief, how is Indonesia not that country? How are the thousand places that go before they get to Australia not that place of Asylum?

    How are they refugees/assylum seekers when they have found another country of refugee?

    I don’t care about jumping the queue, I don’t care about coming on a boat. But surley the UN is a joke if they class people who flee their country for good reason, find another country that will take them(thus fulfilling that assylum clause), then continue to call them refugees/assylum seekers as they are processed in a country that has accepted them?

    I think this is a political correctness issue, but surley if you have made it as far as Indonesia you have already sought and recieved assylum or refugee, and as far as finding a new home is concerned they are looking for that new home through the UN in a country which has already given them that home.

    …I don’t get it…can anybody answer me this.

  7. Michael


    They are in the greater part simple misfits from their own counties of origin.

    Fundamentalists all.

    Where they are vastly different is in their ability to raise the cash to pay the captain.

    Almost all have raised the money by stand-over tactics in their own country of origin, which almost always involves unlawful conduct. So there is no way they can enter through the front door like legitimate refugees do.

    Not unlike the Cubans who have ended up in the US by traveling by boat.

    So mate don’t shed a tear and hope you never cross their path after they settle here cause they won’t settle down, I assure you.

  8. Sue Hoffman

    Hi Rush

    Indonesia does not provide relief, as you put it. UNHCR refugees are left to languish for years, some held in jails. UNHCR has a concept ‘effective protection’ which needs to be there for a country to be safe for asylum seekers and refugees. Indonesia does not provide effective protection. Asylum seekers/refugees have no legal rights in Indonesia. There is a directive in place but this can be easily withdrawn.

    Indonesia does not accept refugees and asylum seekers, it tolerates them. Indonesian law does not recognise refugees or asylum seekers.

    For a refugee to be accepted in a country, it means they can remain permamently and enjoy rights enjoyed by other residents/citizens. Like being able to work, access education, travel and so forth. Really the things we think of as being part of normal life. These are not available to UNHCR registered refugees in Indonesia.

    Because their situation is uncertain, they live with the constant fear of being returned – which might be unlikely now but who knows in the next few months? They see their lives simply wasting away – highly qualified, professional men unable to use their skills as they are not allowed to work. Years of study down the drain. They see their children become depressed and withdrawn because they have not been to school for 5 or 6 years.

    I could go on, but maybe this gives you an idea.

  9. shepherdmarilyn

    Thanks Sue, it makes me laugh out loud with despair everytime the dumb argument of staying someplace else comes up without a single regard or idea of what people are talking about.

    Indonesia is poor, corrupt, dangerous for Australians to visit and they deport refugees or lock them up for as long as 40 years in the so-called queue that we pay for and then refuse to let anyone leave.

    We have set up a Hotel California in Indonesia.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Rush, you write: “…if you have made it as far as Indonesia you have already sought and recieved assylum or refuge”. You could check but I don’t think Indonesia is in the business of actually officially and explicitly “granting asylum”. They don’t do it. And I don’t think that country is a signatory to that particular UN convention so refugees passing through probably don’t have any rights or security of passage. They’re in the hands of agents. Tough eh? No wonder the tourist industry gets such a bad name. Don’t you think Australia sounds like it might be a bit less tough? After all it’s supposed to be grown-up, civilized and even cutting out its own place in world lingo: THE FAIR GO. So, why not Australia?

  11. Rush Limbugh

    Thanks Sue ,

    “Indonesia does not provide relief, as you put it. UNHCR refugees are left to languish for years, some held in jails. UNHCR has a concept ‘effective protection’ which needs to be there for a country to be safe for asylum seekers and refugees. Indonesia does not provide effective protection. Asylum seekers/refugees have no legal rights in Indonesia. There is a directive in place but this can be easily withdrawn.”

    Ok well indonesia then is a bad example, but i’m sure they pass through many other countries who do provide protection. They are seeking protection from persecution and a new home, if Indonesia provides that, then that is an option.

    “Indonesia does not accept refugees and asylum seekers, it tolerates them. Indonesian law does not recognise refugees or asylum seekers. ”

    That is still asylum or refugee according to UN law? They are not being persecuted in Indonesia.

    “For a refugee to be accepted in a country, it means they can remain permamently and enjoy rights enjoyed by other residents/citizens. Like being able to work, access education, travel and so forth. Really the things we think of as being part of normal life. These are not available to UNHCR registered refugees in Indonesia. ”

    I know for a fact they can and do work in indonesia, its just indonesia dosnt have a social welfare system. They same way illegal immigrants work in the US.

    “Because their situation is uncertain, they live with the constant fear of being returned – which might be unlikely now but who knows in the next few months? They see their lives simply wasting away – highly qualified, professional men unable to use their skills as they are not allowed to work. Years of study down the drain. They see their children become depressed and withdrawn because they have not been to school for 5 or 6 years.”

    They are never returned and many do find happy and gainfull employement in Indonesia.

    PLus indonesia is just one of many countries they could possibly go to.

    As for Refugees, I think we should take some, but that needs to be balanced by allot more immigration from europe and the America’s.

    There is no doubt sudden influxes of immigration cause social dislocation, as seen in many parts of Europe, the Government has an obligation to accept some refugees, but its greater obligation is to it’s citizens.

    The needs of our citizens must be put before that of the refugees. We need to accept some refugrees, but not at the cost of the social welbeing of Australian citizens.

  12. Sue Hoffman

    I’m sorry Rush you are wrong. I have visted refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. The people I met had been there since 2000 or 2o01 and are not permitted to work. They do not work. There may be some working illegally but they take huge risks in doing so.

    Certainly the professional people I met – doctors and the like – cannot work in their professions. The hundreds in jail certainly cannot work.

    Indonesia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. It does not offer legal protection to refugees/asylum sekers. Perhaps you misunderstand what is meant by those terms which I have tried to explain by reference to effective protection. Although a person may be recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR, that has no legal standing in any country.

    Oher countries they pass through are similar – the attraction of Australia is that as a signatory to the Refugee Convention, it does mean there is a chance of permament, safe and legal residency, with the opportunity to work and study.

  13. Rush Limbugh

    Sue I am aware that Indonesia is not a signatory, but i have worked in indonesia and met many refugees/assylum seekers who live and work there quite happily, its not like they have well organised police force. If they want to work, they can find it. Just as in America.

    I have no clue about the ones who get caught, but if they do they must be unlucky, or stupid.

    Let me make it clear, I have no problem with Australia taking refugees, I think we just need to look at some of the social dislocation in europe and make decisions with a Australian’s first attitude.

    We elect leaders to put Australian’s first, we need to oblige our UN signatures but Australia comes first.

  14. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Rush, in your last two pieces you seem to have joined sudden influxes of migration (or immigration) with refugee intake and blamed them for “social dislocation”. Australia’s refugee intake (including boat people) is about 13,000 per year compared to some 250,000 ‘legal’ migrants’ coming through the front door. Aren’t you exaggerating the impact of refugees?

  15. Gary Stowe

    What is really dishonest is comparing Schindler with current people smugglers and by doing so attempt to paint these profiteers as either some type of resistance hero or mere transporters of cargo. Ocean transport of human cargo is also what the slave traders did and given the similarity of conditions and the callous disregard regard for well-being and survival the second is a far more appropriate allegory.

    Schindler, (and Bonhoffner, whose name has also been recently misused for the same purpose) risked their lives and recieved no money. Smugglers from Indonesia charge huge amounts and if they are caught and prosecuted, simply buy their way out. And publicly boast, beforehand, that they can do so.

    I am frankly disgusted that Jon Jeurendi can abuse the name of a good person in justification of an insidious trade and that ShepherdMarilyn can agree. When the frail boats sink, and the people drown, who will they blame? Not the worthy smugglers, those heroic and selfless providers of passage. No, they will find a way to blame Australians.

    I know who the “clowns” are.

  16. Rush Limbugh

    If you read a little higher up Hugh my first comment probably explains my train of thought.

    Im talking about all immigration, include or don’t include refugees, my point is Australian policy should be Australia first. If we can handle a certain level of immigration, refugees without social dislocation, then fine. If not, as per Europe then no.

  17. Liz45

    @GARY STOWE – Every time people like you open your mouth, you only show your damned ignorance – and there’s no excuse for that these days. The fact is, that Australia has participated in causing the misery that the people in Afghanistan & Iraq, in particular are being forced to flee. It is ludicrous to talk about the risks they take, when every day in their country is a risk. Add to the violence, perpetrated needlessly by us, the corrupt and brutal ‘Parliament/government and to too many, their only hope of survival is to leave!


    When the Jews fled the Nazis, those who helped ‘smuggle’ them away from death were heroes – it’s all a matter of who’s perceived to be on the ‘winning side’? Every day is a day of death, misery, violence, disease; genetic mutations and cancers, caused by Depleted Uranium bombs that we remain silent about. The hypocrisy of Obama and his protestations of reducing nuclear weapons is a cruel and vicious joke – but the mothers of deformed babies aren’t laughing!

    Read Malalai Joya’s book, ‘Raising my Voice’ about the reality of Afghanistan. Go to the website of http://www.rawa.org and read of the struggles the brave women of Afghanistan are fighting every day. Stop listening to the BS coming out of the White House or the Lodge! The real truth is, that we invaded their country and have almost destroyed their lives totally – leaving is not a desire it’s a necessity! There are more land mines there than in any other country! The population of young people is very high, as are the orphans!

    Indonesia is not a signatory to the Migration Act, and so does not have any responsiblity re humane treatment or processing. Indonesia does not have a history or upholding the rights of their own citizens, let alone strangers! Take note of those wonderful people in this country who have visited there and been treated in an appalling manner!

    The only ‘real’ Australians are indigenous people. The rest of us, via our ancestors were boat people or arrived by plane! There can be up to 60,000 people here on any given day without ‘papers'(a visa) why doesn’t the govt get hysterical about them. Could it be that the majority of these are white and speak English have anything to do with the lethargy of successive govts of recent times? Surely not!

  18. Liz45

    @GARY STOWE – There are people in this country who finally received a visa as they were in need of asylum, but due to their incarceration(with brutality and racist attitudes) are still undergoing psychiatric treatment – some wil for the rest of their lives. As Patrick McGorry? (Australian of the Year) a noted Psychiatrist,( whose speciality is young people) has asserted many times – detention centres(jails in my view) are breeding grounds for mental illness. Anyone who has undergone any life tragedy or stressful situation must be able to understand this. Imagine seeing family members raped, or murdered in front of you, and wonder how you’d cope?

    Hi SHEPHERDMARILYN, SUE & HUGH! On and on it goes? How depressing!
    It costs over $1000 per day in Christmas Island as opposed to $250 or so in Villawood/Sydney! Not that I’m advocating detention there either, but the cost is horrendous? What will become of any children who arrive now from these two countries? Detention?

  19. CliffG

    The relatively few asylum seekers who reach Australian territory by boat, are either refugees or not. It doesn’t matter where they are from, or where they’ve been. The task, which the Rudd government seems incapable of handling, is to make that determination, not play cowardly political games destroying people’s lives by creating obtacles and illusory “deterrents”.
    Australians had a gut full of that during the hideous policies of Howard and Ruddock. Now we seem to be slowly returning to them. Mr Rudd should have the moral courage to defend human rights and humane policy, rather than pandering to the ill informed and the xenophobic. But he’s chasing votes isn’t he? And it’s the numbers that seem to matter more than his principles.
    The further to the right he shifts the further to the extreme right Abbott moves. (See “Abbott aides play down asylum remarks”, 4:28PM Joe Kelly, The Australian – “TONY Abbott’s office has been forced to clarify comments he made today suggesting a permanent ban on boatpeople being granted permanent residency.” ).
    And we thought we were returning to a decent Australia at the last election, after a long period of darkness. Silly us!

  20. shepherdmarilyn

    Under the law they are not people smugglers and to claim that somehow only people who saved jews are of merit is ludicrous.

    I have a group of friends from Oruzgan who came here in 2000 – they featured in the story Seeking Asylum made by Mike Piper for SBS in 2002.

    They and other friends were being persecuted and made to pay bribes because they were Hazara.

    One family stayed in Port Hedland for 5 months in one room with two of the children nearly dying of untreated dysentery and one of the boys having cerebral palsy was seriously mistreated. They fled because they were relatively educated and the dad had a shop, the oldest boy was taken by the Taliban and they had 5 more gorgeous boys to save. The person who helped them escape was a Pashtun boss in the region and yes the price for escape was almost everything they owned but the oldest child Fatima is now a lawyer while all the boys are top of their classes at school. Fatima tried after 7 years in limbo to see her grandma but she died of cold three days before Fatima got to her.

    Is this the sort of person who you are whinging about Rush and others?

    Another family – Marzia was forced into marriage at 12, she was a mother at 13, her young husband was slaughtered in front of her eyes when she was 17. Her father was murdered, one brother was taken by the Taliban. Her mum was an uneducated Hazara woman in her 40’s who made the enormously courageous trip all the way to Australia while keeping alive her remaining two sons, one was half dead with a mangled cleft palate, her three daughters and my beautiful girl Manizha who is now 16 and dux of her class. Marzia met her second husband when she was just out of Woomera and they have two more Australian citizen children.

    The person who saved this family was a Pashtun tribal elder outraged because the Taliban wanted to kill the oldest girl Marzia because she secretly learnt to read and write.

    These are the evil people you morons are on about.

    Honest to god you are stupid.

    The question you need to ask is this “what would you do under the circumstances” and stop whining that a few people come here and ask for our help.

    Now let’s address the stupid “they come across other countries” with an exercise I conducted last week.

    I searched the RRT decisions for this year to find out what countries people were coming from to make claims for asylum and I want the whiners to get an atlas and put pins in the so-called first countries they could have gone to and get back to me when they wipe the egg off their faces.

    RRT appeals – all countries Jan to March

    China – 30
    Malaysia – 4
    Philipinnes – 3
    Lebanon – 5
    Bahrain – 1
    Sri Lanka – 1
    Sudan – 1
    Nigeria – 1
    Algeria – 1
    New Zealand – 1
    Uganda – 1
    India – 5
    Turkey – 1
    Rwanda – 1
    Pakistan – 2
    Jordan – 1
    Zimbabwe – 1
    Indonesia – 4
    Fiji – 2
    Somalia – 1
    Burma – 1
    Latvia – 1
    Korea – 1
    Colombia – 2
    Mongolia – 2
    Iran – 1
    Bangladesh – 1
    Macedonia – 1
    Egypt – 1

    Tonga – 3
    Afghanistan – 1
    Cameroon – 1
    Nepal – 1
    Tunisia – 1
    Albania – 1
    Guinea – 1
    Serbia – 1
    Thailand – 1
    Congo – 1
    Vietnam -1

    Palestine – 1
    Bangladesh – 2
    Sierra Leone – 1
    Uzbekistan – 2
    Vanuatu – 1

    Go for it boys.

  21. Pamela

    Rush, i do not know when you were in indonesia so you may not know that the situation has changed in the past 8 months or so.
    When a person was assessed as a refugee by UNHCR they were released from detention- this is no longer the case. Now they continue to be detained and I can tell you from first hand that a detention centre in Indonesia makes a tent on Christmas Island look like Buckingham Palace.
    This includes underage minors.
    Conditions are so bad that once they “escape”, people just want to get out of indionesia before they are picked up again.

    I know people who spent 8 years waiting in indo- no right to work- no school for the children – just a life spent waiting…
    You are wrong about people working.

  22. shepherdmarilyn


    Hmph. So the Danes are pretty pissed off with Smith for verbally him. They stopped appeals so that people would not be deported, and we claim the opposite.

    It’s pure depravity at it’s worst. Denmark only had 56 Sri Lankans apply all last year so why on earth would they bother to cancel claims.

  23. filopastry

    Another thing to think about –
    I’m a massive fan of letting people make asylum claims etc etc (hence me reading the article) – but could the cause of the mental disorders of the children in detention (the theme of the article) also stem from their perilous journey from their homeland?
    I know what I personally would find more traumatizing – a sea voyage of any type – rather than existing in detention on dry land. The Australian Government for all its shortcomings doesn’t have any direct say as to whether these people begin their journey in the first place – it’s the parents of the children, whom at the end of the day are responsible for their children’s welfare, who make this decision.
    Author – thoughts?

  24. ronin8317

    The people who smuggled the Jews out of Germany without payments are indeed heroes. The people who smuggled the Jews only if you can pay, and leave those who cannot pay to the gas chambers are merely scums of the earth, similar to today’s ‘People Smugglers’.

    There are no easy answers. If you look back at the WWII era, the rest of Europe wasn’t so keen on helping out the Jews either. The result ‘moral restitution’ is now being paid for in Palestinian blood. People wants to ‘Do the Right Thing’, but they want someone else to pay for it. The politic is simple : Refugees don’t vote, the bleeding hearts are voting Green anyway, so it’s open season for racial dog whistles!!

  25. Billy Blogs

    Rush you do infact have some good points. I’m not too sure why Australia is a better place to go to than any of the European countries. They are all closer to the Afghans and Iraqis than Australia.

    I’d suggest it’s cheaper and easier to get here now than it is to get to Europe. I’d suggest that a greater percentage of refugees get accpeted into Australia now than they do in Europe.

    There are quite literally billions of people around the world that would rather live in Australia than thier own homeland. For many of the most disadvantaged, I’d like to help them fulfill their wish. But if you change the laws that encourage them to come, the increase will continue until it is totally un-managable. It seems we’ve hit that mark already. This after only 2.5 years.

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    Billy bloggs you do talk the most unmitigated drivel. And Ronin, why on earth is saving a life even if they pay for it somehow evil?

    If it was evil why do we charge so much for a short ambulance ride instead of doing it for free? Why do doctors charge patients? That sort of ill-informed drivel is just that.

    And a greater number might seem to be accepted in Australia but that is not true. We had precisely 6147 claims last year, for the whole year and only 2,000 of them from “boat people”, which means that we left 727 boat people in limbo until this year.

    It makes not a jot of difference and the only reason they seem to want to make it a crisis is because we moronically insist on locking people up when there has never been any need and it is highly illegal anyway.

    Locking up kids with less legal rights than your average terrorist suspect is deranged.

  27. shepherdmarilyn

    Jan – Feb stats. from UNHCR are in.

    Jan – 645 claims lodged.

    Afghans – 136
    Sri Lanka – 103
    China – 72
    Somalia – 1
    Iran – 33
    Iraq – 14.
    Pakistan – 16
    Sri Lanka and Afghans combined – 239, others 406

    Feb – 835 claims

    Afghans 265
    China – 88
    Somalia – 5
    Iran – 42
    Sri Lanka 43
    Iraq – 20
    Pakistan – 29

    Sri Lanka and Afghans – 308
    Others 527

    Shows the lies and depravity because almost all visas this year have been for Afghans left over from last year.

    Look what it is you are actually whining on about.

    Afghans and Sri Lankans were only 8 people per day in January while 13 others applied.
    They were only 11 per day in February while 19 others applied.

    It’s a farce and sick joke perpetrated by a bunch of snivellers.

  28. shepherdmarilyn

    Filo you have a very strange idea of the length of the journey by sea. Yes the Afghans tell me it is terrifying because they have never seen the sea but the very fact that they all get here unless we interfere with them shows that it is not that dangerous.

    For most of them they go from Roti Island to Ashmore which is 150 km, it is the idiot Australian’s who then ship them 1800 km west to Christmas Island on a war ship to lock them up.

    So yes that part would be terrifying surrounded by soldiers and cops with guns and not having a clue what is happening to them.

  29. filopastry

    Hey Shep
    I’m just asking you (assuming you’re the author) whether you think the voyage / journey has an impact on your observed negative mental health in the children, compared to the later detention. What split would you give it? 50/50? I’m just interested.
    Out of interest (I actually have no idea) how do they get to Roti Island? When not by sea it’s still one hell of a journey – by sea or otherwise.

  30. shepherdmarilyn

    Filo, it is utterly irrelevant how anyone gets to Australia. Absolutely none of our business but I do know from many I talk to that the trip is the least of their problems.

    We don’t ask how anyone else gets anywhere so why do we ask how they get here?

    It doesn’t mean a thing and is nothing to do with whether or not people are persecuted, anymore than Sri Lanka having an election does.

  31. Liz45

    FILOPASTRY – To give you an idea of what causes mental anguish/illnesses in children. A little girl called Naomi was born at Villawood Detention Centre, Sydney. Her mother was Chinese? After almost 3 yrs in detention, Naomi was exhibiting very disturbing signs of distress; she was pulling out her hair; bashing her head against the wall; became introverted and stopped speaking etc. The Psychiatrist’s report noted, that she was ill from being detained in a confined space and lack of positive stimulation, and no friends of her own age etc. She’d been there long enough to witness traumatized adults who were exhibiting many disturbing characteristics such as, self harm and at times violent actions against ‘things’ (not people) etc. The adults she mingled with were either warders or detainees suffering a variety of psychological problems brought about by what they were subjected to in their home country, plus the added bullying, intimidation, violence and at times solitary confinement during their detention(jail) sometimes for several years, without any hope of it ceasing!

    I personally know of several detainees in Villawood, who were sent to a private Mental Hospital in Brisbane for severe depression, and against the advice of highly qualified Psychiatrists were sent back to Villawood. This pattern continued for many yrs, and is probably still being carried out. If you make traumatized people live in inhumane and prison like environments, without any hope of seeing an end to it, people will suffer serious mental illnesses. People like Philip Ruddock, on hearing this opinion would disagree with Psychiatrists, even though he had no medical qualifications at all. Dr Louise Newman, a highly qualified and respected Child Psychiatrist would repeat this at frequent intervals, to no avail. Hence, little people like Naomi became seriously ill. Many people, myself included, sent emails, made phone calls etc, and finally, this dear little girl and her mother were released into the care of friends and medical people!

    I”ve also repeated the situation of a woman from China, again held at Villawood, who was at least 8 months pregnant, and was to be deported to China. She pleaded, as did many others(myself included)to be allowed to stay and have her baby – she even promised to go after, and leave her child here. This was refused! (Howard govt at the time.) She was deported, and her baby was aborted! Where were the Abbotts and Minchins etc then? Not one word was uttered by the major parties on her behalf! Not one that I recall! It was the Greens and the Democrats from memory who pleaded her case!

    I’ve seen the new arrivals, and on the boat/s were little children/babies and minors. Where are they now, and what care is being taken of them? Some people in the past have been locked up for up to 7 yrs – this is the sentence for some crimes such as kidnapping and some robberies etc. People who’ve been found to have child sex abuse images on their computers etc; people who’ve committed serious crimes of fraud etc have been sentenced to miniscule jail terms by comparison – it’s obscene!
    Seeking asylum is not a crime! Seeking asylum is a right that Australia has agreed to by ratifying the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child; the relevant Migration Act and others! We either act accordingly, or we have the guts to publicly state our future opposition – to the world!

  32. filopastry

    Liz and Shep
    Thanks for your input. I’m not disputing the conditions in the detention centres at all. Just enquiring as to whether the journey from the homeland of considerable distance and effort is a contributing factor. Obviously for the problems evident in a child born in detention this would not be the case, logically speaking, as they have not travelled any distance.

  33. Liz45

    @FILOPASTRY – There are several good books that will give you an idea of what types of suffering and trauma asylum seekers experience before and after they flee their home country. It should be stressed, that the overwhelming number of asylum seekers love their country of birth, and if not for the deaths, traumas, torture, witnessing rape and murder etc, they’d be more than happy to continue their lives in their countries – when it’s considered, that Australia participates in their trauma at home, the hysterical, unjust and horrific attitudes to these people is criminal.

    “Dark Victory” David Marr and Mariane Wilkinson(about the Tampa?) “Seeking Asylum”? Heather Tyler; ‘From Nothing to Zero’ a collection of accounts by children in detention – the title is one child’s feelings from having to flee(Nothing) to what they experience in detention(Zero). ‘Following them Home’ about 6 forced deportations after they arrive in their home country. And there are others! These books I borrowed from my library?

    A recent book by Malalai Joya(not her real name) called ‘Raising my Voice’ gives an insight into the horrific reality of Afghanistan. She was interviewed several times last yr while visiting Australia. Go to The Conversation Hour/ABC Radio. Then there’s http://www.rawa.org about the work of amazing and brave women in Afghanistan who are fighting against horrific oppression, violence and fear, while they do their utmost to educate and care for the many orphans and those in fear of their lives, particularly women. You’ll find out how women are setting fire to themselves rather than put up with more violence, and how killing a woman is seen as of the same importance as “killing a bird” by those in authority – mostly men! (Malalai Joya). How corrupt the so-called govt is under the US despot, (President)Karzai. I’ve lost count of the numbers who’ve lost limbs via land mines, the numbers of orphaned kids, and the horrific illnesses, diseases, and genetic mutations via the Depleted Uranium bombs, cluster bombs, napalm etc. How anyone can even suggest, that people from this country, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka are only ‘economic refugees’ only shows their gross ignorance! We’ve either helped destroy these countries, or uphold sanctions and the selling of weapons etc to their govts. Just appalling! The overwhelming reason why Australia is in these countries is to protect the resources that the US and others want! The monies involved are in the $trillions!

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