Temporary status brings about mental health crisis for refugees

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The Australian Psychological Society (APS) urges the Federal Government to bring about the end of temporary protection visas (TPVs) following new research that shows an unacceptably high rate of mental health problems among refugees and asylum seekers holding TPVs along with those in mandatory detention.

A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia reported significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for TPV holders compared to holders of permanent protection visas, despite similar levels of past trauma experienced prior to their arrival in Australia.

A 2006 British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that past immigration detention and ongoing temporary protection both contribute separately to the risk of ongoing PTSD, depression and significant mental health issues - the longer the detention, the more severe and persistent the mental health impairment.

”Holders of TPVs live with chronic insecurity and ongoing fear of forced repatriation,” said APS President Amanda Gordon. “They are denied the rights to family reunion and may not leave Australia for any reason while on a TPV. This prolonged uncertainty and separation from family contributes to the persistence of significant mental health problems in this vulnerable population. In addition, holders of TPVs are also faced with limited work rights, restricted access to health care and to government and non-government support services, meaning that those who are greatly in need of mental health care are least able to access the support they need to improve their well-being.”

”The rest of the world is watching Australia’s behaviour with regard to refugees,” said Gordon. “The Australian Government has the opportunity to follow their own lead in advances in mental health care, heed the compelling scientific research, and maximise the psychological well being of refugees through minimal detention, and the replacement of TPVs with permanent protection visas.”

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For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068
www.psychology.org.au