A new psychological condition diagnosed among asylum seekers held in indefinite detention is further evidence of the need to put time-limits on detention and close remote and isolated detention centres, the Australian Greens said today.

“The discovery of this new mental illness syndrome is nothing for Australia to be proud of,” Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

“It is saddening to learn that this new condition is being created because of the long-term and indefinite detention of vulnerable people who have sought Australia’s protection but instead are being even further harmed and damaged.

“The recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s Detention Network saw significant evidence of the mental health crisis that that exists in our detention centres.

“The committee’s final report found 86 percent of all detained asylum seekers displayed signs of clinical depression, 50 percent have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while one in four reported suicidal thoughts.

“It is not uncommon to see in our detention centres individuals who are severely damaged by their traumatic experiences compounded by the indefinite nature of their incarceration. The blank stares of men, women and children show how hollow and broken they have become from being imprisoned with no idea when they will be released.

“The mental health crisis can be avoided by having a clear time-limit on the length a person will remain in detention and allowing community-based assessment once initial health and security checks have been done.

“Keeping people locked in detention in remote locations is expensive enough for the taxpayer – having to fork out millions of dollars more in compensation because of the damage done by that detention just doesn’t make sense.

“The parliamentary inquiry recommended that the government set 90-day time-limits on detention and cease detaining vulnerable asylum seekers in remote and isolated detention centres.

“The Government can immediately tackle this ‘Prolonged Asylum Seeker Syndrome’ by acting on the report’s recommendations.”