Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project

Related Project: Asylum Seekers, International projects, Policing and Detention

October 19, 2016

Christmas Island detention centre fencing

Photo: Flickr/ davidstanleytravel

PIAC’s Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project seeks to ensure basic minimum standards for medical and mental health care for asylum seekers held in Australia’s immigration detention centres.

Asylum seekers in immigration detention in Australia are typically fleeing persecution in Iran, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, China and Afghanistan. 

There are currently no legal standards for mental health or medical care in immigration detention. This is despite the fact that asylum seekers often have a history of trauma, and holding people in long-term indefinite detention is known to cause serious harm to mental health.

The longer an asylum seeker spends in indefinite detention, the more likely they are to develop serious psychiatric disorders. 

Australia is a global outlier in the time for which we detain asylum seekers. On average, immigration detainees are held in Australia’s detention network for 454 days.  For 24% of detainees, this time extends to over 780 days. By contrast, the average length of stay for an immigration detainee in the United States is 32 days and in Canada is 25 days.

Using a combination of strategic litigation and social justice advocacy, PIAC’s Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project aims to create urgently needed systemic reform. We are seeking to have minimum standards for medical and mental health care provided for in law, to ensure Australia is complying with international human rights standards for asylum seekers held in immigration detention. 

More on this project…

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