Refugees Set to Sue Australia for Millions for Psychological Damage

Nick Tabakoff, Daily Telegraph, June 6, 2011

Legal and medical sources told The Daily Telegraph scores of detainees were preparing claims against the Australian Government and detention centre operators Serco and G4S.

Revelations of the damages claims come at the worst possible time for the Federal Government, with tension in detention centres rising through overcrowding as the number of detainees hits a record high.

Among those making claims are Iranian Mehrnoosh Yousefi and her adult son, who have both been granted refugee status.

Mrs Yousefi’s husband, former Iranian oil industry engineer Parviz Yousefi, achieved notoriety when he sewed his lips together and attempted suicide several times while in detention at Woomera between 2001 and 2004.

In 2008 Mr Yousefi was reportedly awarded a record damages payout of more than $800,000 for psychological damage suffered in detention.

Dr Zachary Steel, senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of NSW, said that he had been told of multiple pending lawsuits.

“There are a number of cases going through at the moment,” he said.

He also had “heard discussions of class actions”.Dr Steel said the basis for most of the lawsuits was psychiatric harm caused by trauma experienced in detention, including riots, self-harm and, in some cases, allegations of mistreatment by inmates and centre operators.

There were also cases where detention resulted in injury, pain and suffering.

Mrs Yousefi has lodged a claim in the NSW Supreme Court on behalf of herself and her son against four parties, including the Commonwealth of Australia and G4S.

Slater & Gordon’s Bill Madden confirmed the pair had claimed detention had “resulted in serious psychological damage”.

Mr Yousefi suffered horrific experiences after being separated from his wife and son while in detention, resulting in self-harm.

Mrs Yousefi was quoted in 2008 as saying her husband would never work again and would require medical care for the rest of his life.

In some cases asylum seekers have made claims for lost earnings during and since their detention, citing factors such as an inability to concentrate and the need for ongoing medical treatment.

There are also believed to be workers compensation claims involving psychological and physical trauma concerning staff at the centres.

A spokesman for federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said last night: “It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on legal cases before the courts.”

The psychiatric damage of detention

Australia has more people in detention centres than ever before.

Latest figures–for May–show detainee numbers have grown over the past two years to just under 6800.

Detainees are also spending more time in centres ill-equipped to handle them. University of NSW expert Dr Zachary Steel said that, since detainee numbers burst through the 2000 mark about 18 months ago, centres had become “trauma-inducing” settings.

Dr Steel’s research found that, after six months in detention, asylum seekers started “to get a really harmful mental health outcome”.

The Government’s latest figures show just under 4400 detainees–65 per cent–have been in detention for a minimum of six months.

“I am almost certain more than 80 per cent of detainees will be found to be genuine refugees,” Dr Steel said. “We will create a burden for society because of huge psychiatric damage.”

“Is It is bad policy–and it doesn’t deter people from coming.”

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  • Anonymous

    Finding them to be “genuine refugees” shouldn’t mean automatic settlement in Australia.

    Muslim countries should take them instead.

  • Anonymous

    Suing Australia after having been given asylum? They should put these ungrateful whiners on a plane and send them back where they came from

  • white advocate – Canada

    They make it sound like the law and the courts are some independent supreme authority that has to be obeyed without regard to costs. The whole refugee system is based on law after law being imposed against the wishes of the population. Well, we all know that the law embodies social values. How much we can argue about but to some big extent. So the government should impose a time-out here and then change the law to end this outrage.

  • A Comment from Australia

    Some Questions for Dr Steel and Mr Yousefi:

    Why are these illegal immigrants the responsibilty of the Australian taxpayer?

    How are refugees treated at the Malaysian detention centres and then by the Indonesian people smugglers? Perhaps you can try and sue them!

    Mr Yousefi, your name suggests you are a Muslim, just tell us why you are not welcome in some good Islamic nation, surely you would be more at home in such a place. You would have the full protection of Islamic law and you would not need to put up with evil, white, racist and nominally Christian Australians.

    I wonder if Dr Steel has recently visited or even driven through some of Sydney’s south west suburbs to see what the effects of excessive Islamic and other 3rd world immigration really are. He might then realise why so much of Australia is starting to say “enough is enough”. Time to stop the boats, the visa overstayers, the student visa rorts and even the cheap temporary imported labour scams.

    It is time that the Australian public had some say as to who can come to this country and not have immigration & refugee policy dictated to us by out of touch politicians and UN obligations.

  • Cid Campeador

    Pay them off only on the condition that they return to the wonderful “God fearing” (I use that in its most literal interpretation) Hellholes from whence they came.

    When are Whites going to retrieve their ” bullocks” and confront these arrogant,vile bastards? How do we stand by and let the greatest culture in history be destroyed by an Imperialistic, barbarous ideology posing as a “religion” that regards its women just slightly better than it does dogs? My apologies to the “Canine Community”.

  • WKSIII

    What kind of asinine organization thinks inserting third world humans into a civilized population is a good ides? The UN has done more damage to the first world (white) countries than any war ever could. The refugee/asylum seeker programs must end or else the entire world will brown out forever.

  • GenX ANZAC

    If I found myself illegally invading another country, I would expect nothing less than pain, suffering and injury.

    These invaders owe us everything and we owe them nothing.

    Most of these injuries in this article are self inflicted, tantmount to a spoiled brats temper tantrum because they’re not getting their way.

    Next we’ll have our state and federal prisoners suing us because they find prison life “trauma-inducing”.

    I wish White people world wide would start acting as bad in reality as we depicted to be, non Whites wouldn’t know what hit them.

    Instead we are passive and we still get accused of being tyrants, were being sued by these invaders for not instantly accommodating them.