Deciphering despair: A study of self-harm among asylum seekers

Room 515, Level 5 207 Bouverie Street

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Centre for Mental Health

Concerns regarding self-harm among the Australian-managed asylum seeker population have been frequently and persistently raised by health and other professionals over the past two decades. Despite these concerns, however, little systematic information exists regarding the extent, nature and characteristics of self-harm among the asylum seeker population. This is largely due to the lack of monitoring processes by successive government departments responsible for asylum seeker policy. As asylum seekers carry most of the established risk factors for self-harm, and self-harm is strongly associated with suicide, the ongoing lack of monitoring of self-harm among the asylum seeker population has serious implications for the health of asylum seekers. The aim of this PhD project, consequently, is to investigate key factors associated with self-harm among the Australian-managed asylum seeker population, in order to improve the prevention and management of self-harm.

Kyli Hedrick is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Mental Health. Her research focuses on self-harm among asylum seekers, in both detained and community based populations.

Kyli is a registered psychologist, with a Masters in Community Psychology, who has worked with people from refugee backgrounds in a range of roles and settings, for 20 years. She has been employed as a specialist trauma counsellor at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House) for the past five years. Kyli is also an experienced group facilitator, having developed meaningful engagement programs for asylum seekers living in community detention, as well as several psycho-therapeutic groups for people from refugee backgrounds.