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Australia Free them now: Deep concerns for mental health of Tamil girls detained on Christmas Island

03:26  14 june  2021
03:26  14 june  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

Youngest daughter of Biloela family 'very distressed'

  Youngest daughter of Biloela family 'very distressed' The friend of a family that has been detained by the Australian government said she was "devastated" to see their young girl in hospital.Three-year-old Tharnicaa was diagnosed with sepsis yesterday after almost two weeks of feeling unwell. She was flown to Perth yesterday for urgent treatment.

Queensland girl detained on Christmas Island seriously ill. The three-year-old and youngest member of the Queensland family facing deportation to Sri Lanka has been medically evacuated to Perth with suspected Crikey Worm: Delta force. Victorian officials and experts have expressed concern about the highly-infectious Delta variant, and 3-year-old Christmas Island detainee Tharnicaa amp. 3 hours ago.

A small but growing number of coalition MPs want the Tamil family being detained on Christmas Island returned to what had become their home in Queensland's Biloela. "We know that Australia's detention program is harmful to the physical and mental health of those held, especially children," acting RACP president and paediatrician Jacqueline Small said. "We want the Australian government to listen to what medical experts have been saying for years now , that Australia must also release all asylum seekers from detention facilities and provide them with support they will need for this transition.

Leading health experts from across the nation have decried the Morrison government's decision to keep a Tamil asylum-seeker family on Christmas Island, saying it will lead to lifelong trauma for the children.

A member of the public holds a sign during a vigil outside the Perth Children's Hospital on June 13, 2021 in Perth. © Getty A member of the public holds a sign during a vigil outside the Perth Children's Hospital on June 13, 2021 in Perth.

Family friends say the mental health of the Murugappan's two young daughters is deteriorating as the youngest is kept under guard at Perth Children's Hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis.

Priya and Nadesalingam Muruguppan and their Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, have been detained on the island since August 2019 after authorities swooped in and removed them from the Queensland town of Biloela.

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They are being detained on Christmas Island after three years locked up. Earlier this month detainees started fires in a violent protest as they demanded better medical care and improved internet access. 'We have concerns about the recent riots at the other facility on Christmas Island ,' Ms Ford said. 'We have written to the department to make sure there is no crossover of guards because the last thing you want is people who are working in a volatile situation coming into a situation where a family is located.'

They 're concerned that the stress resulting from her extended detention has contributed to her illness, Ms Ford said, which still has not been formally diagnosed. But despite the ongoing health issues, and the lack of specialist medical services on the island , there is currently no avenue for the family to be “There is an inability for us to do much more without a change in the government’s viewpoint on continuing to have them on Christmas Island ,” she said. A friend of the family and spokesperson for the Back to Biloela campaign Angela Fredericks said Ms Murugappan was “incredibly happy” to be

Both parents have lost their attempts in the courts to be given refugee status in Australia. Yet the federal court decided in February that Tharnicaa had been denied procedural fairness, which means the family's legal fight continues.

Tharnicaa had to be flown from Christmas Island to Perth last week amid fears she had an infection. Priya had first alerted doctors of her daughter's illness almost two weeks prior.

The night before Tharnicaa's evacuation, Priya spent an hour on hold with the detention centre medical service's office in Sydney trying to get permission to take her daughter to the island's hospital. After Tharnicaa was seen by a doctor it took another five hours to get her to the clinic.

Tharnicaa's health is improving in hospital, where she celebrated her fourth birthday over the weekend, but family friends are warning she is increasingly distressed about being separated from her father and sister, who remained on Christmas Island.

The girl from Biloela who has spent every birthday in detention with her Tamil family

  The girl from Biloela who has spent every birthday in detention with her Tamil family There are growing calls for the family to be allowed to remain in Australia, or at least to be released back into the community while legal bids continue. There are specific concerns about the two girls remaining in detention for so long, and the quality of medical care the family is receiving on Christmas Island.In July 2020, Priya was flown to Perth for medical treatment after experiencing severe abdominal pain and vomiting for two weeks.Tharnicaa had been unwell for 10 days before she was medically evacuated with a suspected blood infection earlier this week.

The Tamil family detained on Christmas Island , and their lawyer, have claimed detention centre staff arriving from the mainland are returning to work without self-isolating for the required 14-day period. Priya, Nades and their young daughters Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two, are currently the sole inhabitants of the island ’s immigration detention centre. Priya says she has become concerned about contact with Serco security guards and other staff in recent weeks. “There are about 10 to 15 staff daily coming into contact with us. If I was living in my own house then I could control who comes in and

A Queensland toddler detained on Christmas Island with her family for more than 20 months has been flown to Perth with a suspected blood infection. Tharnicaa, 3, the youngest of the Murugappan family, from Biloela in Central Queensland, was medically evacuated to Perth on Monday, according to The little girl has been accompanied by her mum Priya. Her older sister Kopika and her dad Nades remain on Christmas Island in detention. “Tharnicaa had been unwell for 10 days, including vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, and a temperature reaching over 40 degrees,” the campaign said in a statement.

"I've been on the other end of the phone with Priya trying to comfort Tharnicaa as she's just sobbing asking for her father and her sister," Angela Fredericks told WAtoday.

It was revealed on Sunday that Tharnicaa's doctors had recommended the family be reunited urgently for the best "physical and psychological" outcome.

Both girls were placed in separate cars from their parents and were not allowed to sit with them on the plane when they were detained in 2018, leading to severe separation anxiety, Ms Fredericks said.

Tharnicaa, who was only eight months at the time, became sleepless and stopped eating. The lack of sun in detention led to vitamin deficiencies and infections to her teeth, which had to be removed.

Almost two years after being sent to Christmas Island, the whole family was still sleeping together on a queen-sized bed and Tharnicaa became anxious whenever she lost sight of her parents.

Calls build for Biloela family to be freed

  Calls build for Biloela family to be freed Another Liberal MP has called for an urgent resolution to the detention of a Tamil family on Christmas Island, a situation Greens leader Adam Bandt calls cruel.Liberal backbencher Katie Allen has joined a small, but growing number of coalition MPs who want them returned to the mainland.

Doctors who worked on Christmas Island recounted shocking details of medical neglect, including stripping asylum seekers of basic medication when they arrived, as documented in a letter of concern written by 15 doctors working on Christmas Island and reported by Guardian Australia. Dr Peter Young, the former medical director for mental health for IHMS – the private healthcare provider in immigration detention – was compelled to attend the hearing in Sydney, where he said data presented to the department within the past two weeks had received a “negative” response and that the

The girls on Christmas Island earlier this month. "It's now been nearly three years they 've been detained for, it's a long period, and Aran Mylvaganam, from the Tamil Refugee Council, said the family's treatment was due to the government's failure to recognise the ongoing persecution of Tamils , an Download our free app on the App Store or Google Play for the latest headlines and breaking

Both girls were able to go to school on the island, but were escorted by guards and could only receive visits from friends at a local recreation centre.

"They haven't just been robbed of their childhood, they have been given a trauma load for the rest of their life and that can never be reversed," Mr Fredericks, who is a social worker by trade, said.

"This has changed the pathways in their brain."

Mr Fredericks' concerns have been echoed by Australia's most high-profile doctors, psychologists and researchers - including the bosses of the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australiasian College of Physicians and the Telethon Kids Institute - who want the family released.

Royal Australasian College of Physicians president Catherine Choong said Tharnicaa's illness was terribly distressing and highlighted what health experts had been saying for years.

"As medical experts, it's clear that the mental and physical healthcare needs of asylum seekers and refugees are being neglected in Australia's detention system," she said.

"Australia must release all asylum seekers from detention facilities and provide them with the support they will need for this transition."

‘We are all compassionate': Ministerial decision on Biloela family within days

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Telethon Kids Insitute director Jonathan Carapetis went one step further, telling ABC Perth on Friday it was cruel and dangerous for both girls to be locked up.

"It is putting a child's normal development at risk because they're not able to socialise with other children, have a normal schooling experience, it puts their mental health at risk and it's just unacceptable that we are still doing this in this country," he said on air.

Research by American psychiatrist Bruce Perry has revealed trauma and prolonged stress can literally shrink the brain and alter its functioning, which can have long-standing implications.

Detention has also been linked to increased mental health and behavioural issues in refugee children, such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, bed-wetting, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

And it can cause long-term damage to social and emotional functioning, Australian Psychological Society president Tamara Cavenett said.

"There is over a decade of evidence which shows detention has an alarming impact on the mental health of refugees, particularly children, and these consequences must not be ignored," she said.

"Research has shown 34 per cent of children in detention centres had serious mental health disorders compared to 2 per cent in the Australian population."

Ms Cavenett said it was deeply concerning Tharnicaa and Kopica were exposed to living conditions known to be damaging to their development when community detention and processing were viable options.

Biloela residents have repeatedly urged the government to allow the family to return home, where they are respected members of the rural town's close-knit community.

"We're now back to that point of how much longer can this go on? It's so distressing watching your friends just time and time again going through these things," Ms Fredericks said.

"If Priya and Nades were in community detention they would have gotten Tharnicaa to the hospital on day three of a fever, she would have started antibiotics and none of this would have happened ... as a country, it's just shameful and I know we are better than this."

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