Claims Aus gov't hid asylum seekers' health issues

A national Australian inquiry into child immigration has been presented with evidence alleging the Government worked to cover-up the number of child asylum seekers suffering from mental health issues.

During the inquiry today, psychiatrist Dr Peter Young alleged that figures showing "significant" mental health problems among a large number of detainees had been collected by the detention centre service provider International Health and Mental Services (IHMS) before being covered up by the immigration department, ABC is reporting

Dr Young directed the mental health services of for three years until earlier this month. He said the reaction to the figures was "negative" and IHMS were asked to remove the figures from the report they were set to present to the Immigration Department.

Dr Young said he was "not sure exactly" who had wanted the data removed but that the request had come from the Immigration Department.

Immigration Department Secretary Martin Bowles said he was not present when IHMS was allegedly asked to withdraw the figures so could not comment on the reaction.

Mr Bowles said he will be sure to deal with the staff involved if it is proven they did act innappropriately. When it was claimed IMHS was regularly overridden by departmental staff, Mr Bowles responded: "not to my knowledge. I would be very upset if that was the case".

A Sri Lankan flag flies on an Australian patrol vessel presented to Sri Lanka, to boost surveillance against illegal migration. Source: Associated Press