June 26, 2013
The National Children’s Commissioner wants young detainees moved out of the Pontville Detention Centre near Hobart into the community.
Megan Mitchell visited the centre at the weekend and is concerned about the mental health of several detainees.
Most of the 270 detainees are unaccompanied boys aged between 15 and 18.
There have been two violent incidents involving some of the teenage detainees in the past month.
Ms Mitchell says some who have been there for months are depressed and are losing hope.
“They’re not sure what their future holds and they think they’ll never get out,” she said.
“While they’re accessing the mental health services there…they’re not feeling that that is making a difference for them.
“They’re quite depressed and some of them have lost quite a lot of hope and I have raised those issues with the department and they are looking into that.”
The commissioner says detention centres are not suitable for young people
She has asked the Immigration Department to deal with the issue as a matter of urgency.
“We should be looking to move those children out into community settings as soon as possible and that’s in the best interest for their healthy development as young people,” she said.
“But I’ve also talked about some of the conditions that might continue to improve there; getting greater community involvement in the centre and getting the kids out into the community.”
A department spokeswoman says Pontville has a “home-like environment” and the health and welfare needs of detainees are catered for.