Asylum-seekers head for mainland from Christmas Island

MANY of the 335 asylum-seekers once destined for Malaysia will be heading from Christmas Island to the mainland in the coming days, with the potential for some to be processed within the community.
The planned move to the mainland after the High Court last week struck down the Malaysia Solution was slated as the influx of asylum-seekers forced Canberra to consider funding a full-time psychologist to counsel Christmas Island locals.
Family groups and unaccompanied minors are expected to be the first in the group to be flown off the Indian Ocean island and yesterday a group of men being held at the family camp happily shot hoops.
The Middle Eastern men signalled "peace" to The Australian and were happy to be photographed playing on a tennis court in their detention compound known as Construction Camp.
A parliamentary inquiry heard yesterday the island's hospital was dealing with two to three locals a day presenting with psychological issues and a growing population has resulted in general emergency presentations increasing by 80 per cent over four years.
Indian Ocean Territories Health Services director of public health Julie Graham said there was a flow-on effect for people on the island from the detention industry and mental health problems were not just confined to detention centre workers.
She told the hearing patients with mental health problems were now working longer hours to service the booming detention industry that had been created by asylum-seekers.
A psychologist is available to community members only one day a week.
Back in the detention centre, the men and their families are understood to not yet know of their fate and when they may be sent to the mainland but it could be as early as tomorrow.
The family groups may end up living in community detention arrangements while they have their claims processed. The other option the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is considering is whether to put them in what they call alternative places of detention, such as the old Inverbrackie army estate in the Adelaide Hills.
This is also what is being considered for the 57 unaccompanied minors among the 335 people. They are still being detained on the outskirts of the jungle and are yet to start schooling.
There is possibility that single men from the group the Gillard government wanted to send to Malaysia will be sent to the mainland, though they are more likely to end up in detention centres instead of in the community.(


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