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Greens welcome AMA President’s mandatory detention concerns

The Australian Greens have welcomed AMA National President Dr Steve Hambleton's comments that mandatory detention is "inherently harmful to the physical and mental health of detainees...especially....children."

Dr Hambleton's remarks join a chorus of similar concerns expressed in recent months by the AMA'S NT branch president and others such as the Australian Human Rights Commission and the UN Human Rights Commissioner.

"There's a growing weight of evidence from medical professionals and other health experts that the policy of mandatory detention causes unnecessary and preventable damage to asylum seekers, particularly children," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"Mandatory detention hasn't worked as a deterrent to people seeking Australia's protection since it was enacted in 1992 by the former Keating government.

"Australian taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on maintaining the detention network, and unknown millions of dollars in compensation for people who have been damaged by their time in detention.

"The Greens hope that the expanding numbers of people and groups who are questioning the point of mandatory detention, plus a new parliamentary inquiry into the practice, will convince the government to use alternatives.

"Alternatives, such as community detention after initial health and security checks, are cheaper to operate and do not cause unnecessary physical and mental damage to asylum seekers.

"The government and opposition should finally realise that their policy is damaging and unworkable, and it should be abolished."

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