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Mental health nurses add to calls to dump mandatory detention

Mental health professionals describe epidemic of self-harm and suicide within detention centres.

Mental health professionals have renewed their call for an end to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses have united to issue a fresh condemnation of the policy - which is supported by both sides of politics - amid renewed debate about its value.

Representatives of the immigration department's Detention Health Advisory Group (DHAG), the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) and the Australian Psychological Society say there is a growing body of evidence proving the harms of the policy.

The DHAG's Louise Newman said there was an epidemic of self-harm and suicidal behaviour within Australia's detention centres.

"This is an unsustainable system and the Government must urgently implement the alternatives that exist, such as community detention," Newman said in a statement.

ACMHN chief executive Kim Ryan said the mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers should be ceased in favour of less restrictive and more cost-effective alternatives.

The Federal Government this week reaffirmed its support for mandatory detention after immigration department boss Andrew Metcalfe raised doubts about the policy.

The Australian Medical Association later said the policy was both physically and mentally harmful to potential refugees.


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