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Indian uni student overstays visa, dies in immigration detention

Daniel Driscoll

Wed Feb 19 2014

Maribyrnong Detention Centre

MEMBERS of the Indian community in Australia are asking why and how it happened, following the death of an Indian university student at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. Daniel Driscoll reports.  

Maribyrnong Detention Centre

President of the Indian Australian Association of NSW Yadu Singh says the community is sad and concerned about the death of the 27-year-old Indian student who died at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre on Thursday February 13.

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the university student had overstayed his visa and had been detained at the centre since January.

He was found unconscious within the facility by service provider staff.

According to Fairfax Media, the student hanged himself in his cell on Thursday night.

Dr Yadu Singh said it was sad news for the community, and especially for his parents and family.

“Many members of the Indian Australian community are asking why and how did this happen, and what was done to prevent it, knowing he would have been in severe distress,” he said.

“It is not an ordinary death. A young man came to Australia, with his hopes and hopes of his family. All those hopes are shattered.”

Dr Singh has appealed to the immigration department and immigration minister Scott Morrison, as well as the Indian High Commission in Canberra, to provide the community some answers.

He said authorities had a duty of care to those in custody.

“It is well known that detention is a stressful situation and it creates distress and mental health issues for detainees… staff in these centres must be properly trained to look out for any sign of severe distress and depression,” Dr Singh said.

“In regards to this particular unfortunate case, a thorough investigation should be done, to figure out all the aspects of the case.”

Mr Morrison said the government “expressed its sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased man” and would provide support to the police and other authorities as appropriate to assist with their investigations.

Victoria Police are examining the circumstances surrounding the student’s death.

A Victoria Police spokesman said more information would be available once the coroner’s report was finalised.

President of the Council of International Students Australia Thomson Ch’ng said mental health was an area of concern for international students, who have to cope with the stresses of living in a foreign country.

He said students needed to be supported, and even more so for international students held in detention centres.

It is not known how many international students are currently held in detention centres.

The immigration department has reportedly refused to provide figures showing how many international students are currently held in detention centres in Australia, and offshore centres including Manus Island and Nauru.

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