11 Mar 2014

Manus detainees could face more trauma in senate inquiry

12:14 pm on 11 March 2014

A psychiatrist says the possibility of flying detainees out of Australia's asylum seeker detention centre in Papua New Guinea to give evidence in Canberra is a terrible idea.

The parliamentary Senate inquiry, scheduled for April, is hoping to travel to Manus Island to speak to guards, officials and detainees to work out what happened during two nights of violence that left one man dead and more than 60 others injured.

The PNG Prime Minister's office says this could be difficult because the Australian Senate doesn't have jurisdiction in PNG, instead suggesting that witnesses be flown to Australia to give their evidence.

But Monash University professor, Louise Newman, says this could cause enormous emotional distress.

"I think this is a very difficult suggestion in that people who are highly distressed and traumatised, who want to come to the Australian mainland, will be flown over, asked to disclose and give accounts of presumably very distressing events and then sent straight back to the very site of those events. So from a psychological point of view that's a really quite a high risk situation."

Professor Louise Newman of Monash University.