Trigger warning: This post deals with self-harm and possible child sex abuse, and may be triggering for some readers.
A five-year-old asylum seeker in a Darwin detention centre is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has been prescribed anti-depressants amid fears she may be sent back to Nauru, a Darwin lawyer says.
The Iranian girl drew an image of a stick-figure person with its lips sewn shut and displayed inappropriate sexual behaviour because of what she has seen or experienced while in detention in Nauru, lawyer John Lawrence said.
Mr Lawrence is taking legal action to prevent the girl and her family being sent back to Nauru.
He said she has been with her parents at Darwin’s Wickham Point Detention Centre since October, after they were transferred from Nauru to Australia because her father needed urgent medical treatment.
The family had been on Nauru for more than a year and were told they would be returned there once the treatment was completed, Mr Lawrence said.
The ABC has seen a medical report, completed in Darwin, assessing the girl.
It records her fear of returning to Nauru, as well as a diagnosis of PTSD and anxiety.
“This child should not be sent back to Nauru as she continues with a significant PTSD syndrome to the exposure to traumatic events during her previous stay, with ongoing severe anxiety symptoms, and risk of self-harm,” it said.
The report also records the prescribing of anti-depressant medication to the girl.
It said she was “still talking of hurting herself as per previous threats, parents are worried about when she is on her own at school, that she could hurt herself”.
Mr Lawrence said he was also concerned about the possibility of abuse at Nauru.
“I have medical material relating to this five-year-old girl, which informs me that she is displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, as a consequence of experiences that she has either seen or experienced directly or indirectly, on Nauru,” he said.
Family desperate to avoid return to Nauru
Mr Lawrence said when he visited the girl on the weekend, he took a colouring book and asked her to write her name.
“She writes her name, it is CAV 020 … the boat number which she comes into the country with,” he said.