NZ woman reportedly dies in Australian detention centre

Source: 1News

A New Zealand woman in her 30s has reportedly been found dead in an Australian detention centre.

The Villawood detention centre (file image).

The Refugee Action Coalition says her body was found in her room at the Villawood detention centre in NSW on Sunday morning.

Her body was reportedly found by other detainees and it is said she died by suicide.

A spokesperson from the Australian Border Force confirmed the female detainee had died at Villawood but didn't give further details about her cause of death.

"The ABF takes all reasonable steps to care for people in detention and to prevent deaths in immigration detention facilities.

"Due to the sensitivity of the situation, it would not be appropriate to comment further," the spokesperson said.

It is believed the woman's visa had been cancelled under Australia's controversial 501 laws.

Visas can be revoked on character grounds if someone is sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment or convicted of sexual crimes involving a child.

However, the policy disproportionately affects New Zealanders, many of who have lived in Australia for most of their lives and haven’t applied for formal citizenship because of the visa arrangement.

Australia's incoming new leader, Anthony Albanese, recently brushed away a question around whether he'd overturn the laws.

The woman's room had supposedly been searched by Serco officers shortly before her body was found, but nothing was found.

"This should never have happened," a detainee told the coalition.

Where to get help.

"This lady needed help, everyone knew that. She was really struggling with her mental health. If she had got help, it wouldn't have happened."

There is ongoing concern around the mental health of detainees. The Refugee Action Coalition alleges there have been a series of suicides and suicide attempts at the detention centre.

An Iranian asylum seeker reportedly committed suicide in March. Last month an Iranian refugee attempted suicide.

The coalition also alleges two suicide attempts have occurred so far this month.

"There is an epidemic of suicides and suicide attempts in Villawood that needs a full investigation," Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, said.

Rintoul also said it was time section 501 is reviewed.

"People held by this section in immigration detention have already served time for any crime they have committed. They should not be in immigration detention."