Mental health and human rights implications for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Australia

Martin, Fiona & Hutchinson, Terry C. (2005) Mental health and human rights implications for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Australia. Journal of Migration and Refugee Issues, 1(1), pp. 1-24.

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International experts, both legal and medical, state that unaccompanied refugee children seeking asylum are in an especially vulnerable position. As a result, there are several international agreements and statements directed towards securing their rights and protection. In addition to this, medical research has pointed to the long-term detrimental effects if such standards for their treatment are not followed. This article analyses the issues surrounding Australia agreement, on the one hand with international human rights law and the reality of Australia's political policy, as underpinned by the provisions of Australian legislation embodied in the Migration Act, 1958. More specifically, international covenants protecting the rights of children impose an obligation on member sates to use detention of children as a last resort. The Australian Federal Government however, is using detention of refugee children as its first option, not where all other options have failed. This use of mandatory detention, the authors argue, is causing high risk to long-term mental health of such children. In particular, the very fact of detention it is argued, with the consequent deprivation of liberty, having no caregiver in the same family or cultural group, and in addition, the process of asylum seeking, is exacerbating the mental ill-health of already damaged and vulnerable children. This argument is supported by legal and medical research in this area and in particular by the 2004 Report of the Human Rights Commission in its National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention in Australia. The submissions and findings of this Inquiry are analysed in detail in this article.

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ID Code: 18800
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1832-0643
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Sandstone Academic Press
Deposited On: 16 Mar 2009 04:36
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:15

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