The 174 child asylum seekers on Christmas Island are depressed, developmentally delayed and distressed, a visit from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has revealed.
Speaking on AM, AHRC President Gillian Triggs said that conditions had worsened since she last visited the facility four months ago.
“Almost all of them, including the adults, were coughing, were sick, were depressed, unable to communicate, were weak,” she told AM.
Triggs was accompanied by paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott, who described the heartbreaking symptoms that the children – who number just over ten per cent of the facility’s 1,102 asylum seekers – are experiencing while in detention.
“We have seen children who have become sad, they are crying all the time,” Dr Elliott said. “They have developed bed wetting and poor sleeping. Some are refusing to eat.
“We saw several children, which is quite distressing, who had developed severe speech impediments. They were having flashbacks and nightmares.”
There have been 128 cases of self harm by children in the facility over the past 12 months.
Dr Elliott stressed on air: “Christmas Island is no place for children.”
The AHRC’s inspection of the facility formed part of the national inquiry into children in detention. The AHRC is also attempting to access the detention facility at Nauru, although it has been told it does not have the jurisdiction to do so.
These are a series of pictures that were drawn by children on Christmas Island earlier in the year. The images – which are drawn based on the children’s experiences – were obtained as part of an inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention by the Human Rights Commission.