Doctor Pressured To Not Report Mental Health Issues On Nauru

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Impacts of detention to be left out of reports, Immigration doctor claims

By political reporter Dan Conifer

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 9, 2015) – A former senior doctor with an Immigration Department contractor alleges medical staff were repeatedly pressured not to report mental health problems caused by detention on Nauru.

A Senate inquiry is looking into the Australian-funded detention facility on the Pacific island nation.

Peter Young was the former director of mental health for International Health and Medical Services and was responsible for the mental health of those in Australian-run centres.

Dr Young said he was told several times not to note psychological harm in reports.

"When it came to mental health issues we were repeatedly told that when making recommendations about people's mental health, and the harms that accrued to their mental health while they were in Nauru, that we should not say that in the reports," he said.

"[We were told that] it was unacceptable to put in reports to the department that people's mental health had been harmed by being in detention in Nauru."

Dr Young was asked: "Who said to you [that] you shouldn't put that in a report?"

"The Department's chief medical officer," he replied, saying he argued against the recommendation and did not alter reports.

Dr Young also said medical recommendations were frequently not accepted or delayed.

He said there was a reluctance to send people to Australia for treatment because it would undermine the offshore detention policy and migrants could more readily access lawyers.

Following the 2013 Nauru detention centre riot, Dr Young said he was told evacuations would not "be happening anytime soon", even if people were not involved in the violence.

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