Incident is tip of iceberg

Ms Luby said fighting, sexual assault and deliberate starvation were far too common in Australian detention centres.

‘It’s an incredibly sad situation ” these people are escaping persecution in their home countries and looking for somewhere safe to live,’ she said.

An asylum seeker at Northam’s Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre was this week transferred to a hospital in Perth after attempting to commit suicide at the facility.

Shire of Northam President Steven Pollard confirmed reports from the Refugee Rights Action Network that the Vietnamese national tried to harm himself.

‘There has been an incident involving self harm, recently,’ Mr Pollard said.

‘But I can’t comment on internal issues at the centre.’

A Refugee Rights Action Network activist said another Vietnamese asylum seeker at the centre alerted her to the suicide attempt.

It is understood the man was taken to the Emergency Department of a Perth Hospital, where he was treated.

‘These are 18-year-old boys being kept in confinement with adult men,’ an activist said.

‘They have been told they will never be resettled in Australia and they feel hopeless.’

She said that Vietnamese police visited the centre in Northam, where they interrogated the men and told them they had to sign agreements to be repatriated.

Ms Luby said boredom brought out the worst in people.

‘I’m not surprised by the suicide attempt; we think there are many more cases than are reported,’ she said.

‘We must find a better way.

‘These people deserve dignity and safety just like any other human being.’

For mental health support, visit beyondblue.org.au, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.