Ashford warning on youth asylum seekers

THE first children's commissioner to speak freely with teenage asylum seekers in an Australian immigration detention centre has warned they are bored, uncertain and in danger of suffering poor mental health.
Tasmanian Children's Commissioner Aileen Ashford says the 137 unaccompanied minors held at the Pontville centre fear they will "go mental".

Ms Ashford became the first children's commissioner in the country to be given free access to young asylum seekers when she visited the facility late last month.
She said the children, aged 13 to 17, have been given no explanation of why they were moved to Pontville and no written information about their status.
"The young men were worried that they would go mental with the worry about what would happen to them," Ms Ashford said.
Ms Ashford said some were already beginning to show symptoms of mental health problems.
The commissioner spoke to 29 unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait who had been in detention for three to six months.

"Those young people are bored, they're worried about what's going to happen to them, they've got nothing in writing that explains it to them in their language ... and they want to be in the community," Ms Ashford said.She said the detainees were receiving English lessons and had been out on day trips but were not attending school because of the practicalities of transporting them.
"They all said we want to go to school. We want an education."
Education Minister Nick McKim said plans were in place for the majority of the youths to attend technical college.
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