Internal documents from Serco reveal that staff at immigration detention centres are told to be alert to detainees using self-harm as a “bargaining tool” in their claims for asylum. The staff memo and incident log, obtained by New Matilda, also reveals just how widespread self-harm is at detention centres — leading the company to warn employees of a “self-harm culture”.
…The rates of self-harm revealed in the internal memos are alarming — but refugee advocates believe that self-harm is even higher than reported. Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul told New Matilda, “We know from information from staff at the detention centres and our scrutiny of Serco running sheets that attempted suicide rates are definitely under-reported”.
…Rintoul continued: “Incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide are on the rise and can broadly be correlated to the increasing lengths of time people are in detention.” According to immigration detention statistics from DIAC, of the 5597 people in immigration detention as at 30 September 2011, 2035 people — or 36 per cent — had been in detention for 12 months or more.
“The essential problem is long-term, indefinite detention itself, so it is difficult to see any possible improvement until detention is itself ended,” Rintoul said.
“Short of that, ensuring that processing arrangements are transparent and have time limits for the various stages of processing would help remove the uncertainty, arbitrariness and capriciousness of the present arrangements. These are the main contributing factors to the deterioration of mental health associated with detention.”
the fact that the first thought of Serco decision makers is to warn against the manipulative use of self-harm by detainees is an amazing intersection of racism & wilful ignorance of issues around mental illness. via Em Russ.