Submission to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from
Anonymous Visitor to Immigration Detention Centre
I have been visiting an unaccompanied minor in [an IRPC] for some time. [words deleted]
The young boy I visit is [words deleted]Afghani. When I first started to visit he was very distressed and in my opinion suicidal. He told me he was crying every day and all he did was cry and sleep. He also took part in a hunger strike and spoke of stitching his lips together. His words "one week two week I be dead, better if I dead no more cry no more thinking my mother my father." I spoke of this with a friend of mine who arranged for a mental health nurse to ring him. She is Iranian and was able to communicate with him in a language he understood better. At no time to my understanding was any counseling, assessment or any other treatment ever offered by DIMMA or ACM.
I visit E(for privacy reasons) [regularly] [sometimes with other people].It has become a family affair and in the process E has become part of our family. E calls me mum and I am the only parental figure he has. His need for family is very great and over the time we are all very close and a special bond has formed. Visits at times have been challenging, caused by ACM, times are changed or cancelled without notice, [some of my companions] were allowed and then not allowed to come. This is sometimes for a reason but more than not it is done to discourage you from visiting.
A few weeks ago E got quite sick and was hospitalized. During his treatment he was given [a drug]. It was not explained to him, or he did not understand and got very frightened by the effects of the drug. He thought his mind had stopped working, or that ACM had given him something to send him mad.
I had not been informed of this. Two days after this incident I got word that he was again being admitted to hospital. I rang ACM to try and get permission to see him and was refused. The next day E rang me very distressed and asked "why I not see him.' The officer on duty was quite willing to supervise my visit, the officer then checked again with ACM and again I was refused. During this time I also spoke to the ACM Center Manager, he said he appreciated that we were very close with E but it was a DIMMA decision, he also said if E was going to be admitted he would call us, He did not. On the third day of the second admission I was finally granted permission to visit. E was very glad to see me and reacted exactly like a child that has had a traumatic and frighteng experience, all he wanted was to have his Mum with him.
To my knowledge E has never been placed in the family section of the compound nor has he ever attended school. Except for adult English classes. He is housed with the single men. The only extra consideration for him being a minor that I know of is DIMMA talks to the unaccompanied minors once a week.
To my knowledge there are only two unaccompanied minors in [one of the IDCs], one is fifteen and E is sixteen. Both of these boys are now being challenged about their ages. A few weeks ago DIMMA had both boys' wrists x-rayed. They were not told why this was and their lawyers were not informed. They have now both received letters to say that in the opinion of DIMMA the x-rays show they are both 19 years. Not only has this been proven inconclusive by any reputable agency, this[area] is notorious for taking extremely bad x-rays and [specialists in another city have their patients come to that city] because they can not trust the x-rays and assessments ones taken in [the area] to be accurate. DIMMA and ACM will now say they have no unaccompanied minors in detention at the Port Hedland center.
The support and care that E now receives comes entirely from the outside. The visits from myself [words deleted], almost daily phone calls from the Iranian lady who is now also one of E's friends and 3 very lovely family's that write to him and also sometimes telephone. We all try to give him the care and guidance a teenager needs but razor wire is a difficult barrier to negotiate. It is mainly up to E to `take care of himself.' Being a young person but also a young person of limited formal education, the system is quite frightening for him and also very confusing. People from the "outside" are not allowed to help and are outright told not to give advise. This is a job I feel should be done by a guardian within a family environment. The big question is WHO will take the responsibility for the unaccompanied minors.
I am happy to discuss any or all of this submission.
Thank you for taking the time to read my submission
Last Updated 9 January 2003.