Call to release vulnerable from detention centres

A COALITION of health groups has renewed calls for the federal government to release vulnerable asylum seekers from immigration detention following reports of increasing self-harm and mental illness.

The death of a refugee at Sydney's Villawood centre this week has sparked fresh debate about Australia's mandatory detention policy.

Mental health groups on Friday demanded the Gillard government and the immigration department urgently establish an independent mental health review process to assess, treat and make community placement orders for vulnerable detainees.

"[The government should] release all those with mental illness, and those at risk, into appropriate community care," the coalition said in a statement.

The coalition includes the Australian Psychological Society, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

"We are concerned that there is now a