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The impact of detention on psychological status, and quality of life was examined in a sample of 150 former refugee detainees from the Woomera Detention Centre now living in the Australian community. Detainees completed a Psychological status inventory including the Truncated Firestone Assessment of Self-destructive Thoughts (T-FAST),the Quality of Life Inventory, the Suicidal Ideation Scale, and the Profile of Mood States,. Former detainees reported their current status; and retrospectively reported their status while detained. The psychological health of refugee detainees improved significantly following their release into the Australian community. Self-reported levels of suicidal ideation, self-destructive thoughts and negative mood states were elevated significantly and quality of life was significantly reduced while being held in detention as compared with when the asylum seekers were living in the broader community. Mandatory incarceration in Australian detention centres of refugees appears to contribute to severe psychological distress.
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