26 May 2005

Lawyer concerned about mental health of children in Australia's detention centre on Nauru

4:12 pm on 26 May 2005

An Australian-based advocate for detainees on Nauru says the six children being held there are suffering mentally and emotionally, and one or two may never recover.

Canberra lawyer Marion Le says she hopes for a breakthrough soon for the 54 failed asylum seekers, who include two teenagers and four young children.

Ms Le says the plight of the children is heart-breaking, and this was confirmed by the recent visit to Nauru of Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett.

She says Mr Bartlett spoke of his distress at seeing the sole teenage Afghan girl all alone.

"They go to school of course with the Nauruans, but when they get back to the compound at night, they're very lonely. The little boy, one of the doctors said that this child, he's about eight, he doesn't think he'll ever recover, his big problem, he said, he's just lonely. He doesn't speak now, he's withdrawn. And the doctor said look he's not sick as such, he's just filled with total loneliness and that's just horrific for me as a teacher and a mother. When I went there I come back absolutely astounded that we can be doing this to people."

Marion Le.