Medicos rally against child detention


Doctors have described the indefinite locking up of asylum seeker children as 'child abuse' and called for their immediate release from immigration detention at rallies around the country.More than 1000 health professionals and their supporters gathered on Friday outside hospitals in several cities, including Sydney, Darwin and Adelaide, for a 'national day of action' to pressure the federal government to remove children and their families from detention centres.


Speakers at the rallies, many of whom had experience treating asylum seeker and refugee families, said the effects of detention on children were devastating.


'Keeping children in prolonged detention, without them knowing what's happening to them, is child abuse,' paediatrician David Isaacs, from Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney, told AAP.


'These are people who are already traumatised. They're fleeing persecution.'We compound that by putting them in indefinite detention for very long periods.'


Associate Professor Karen Zwi from Sydney Children's Hospital said anxiety, bed-wetting, nightmares and poor sleep were common among the more than 200 children still in immigration detention.


'In the extreme cases, children are self harming and attempting suicide,' she said.


She said at an average of 417 days, children were being held in detention centres for too long.


The office of federal immigration minister, Peter Dutton, declined to comment on the matter.