The federal government says detained female asylum seekers on self-harm watch are being monitored by female staff, despite claims to the contrary.
Fourteen asylum seekers are now allegedly on watch at Christmas Island detention centre.
Earlier this week, nine mothers who threatened suicide in a bid to have their Australian-born babies resettled were placed under 24-hour surveillance.
Since then, five more asylum seekers have been added to a watch list, Christmas Island shire councillor Gordon Thomson said.
There are 28 guards working 12-hour watch shifts.
A shortage of female guards meant some women were under watch from male officers, Mr Thomson said.
“Serious conflict will arise and eruptions have started because a male guard is supervising a woman nursing a baby and breastfeeding,” he told AAP on Thursday.
Serco, the company managing the detention centre, was trying to get around the problem by making male guards keep watch from outside rooms, but through an open door.
“It somewhat diminishes the effect of supervision,” Mr Thomson said.
Serco is flying in 55 extra staff on Friday, but it’s unclear how many of them are female.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is advised female staff are on hand to help women placed on watch when they are undertaking “personal care tasks”.
The level of monitoring varies, depending on the individual circumstances.
“The wellbeing, safety and security of all people in immigration detention is of paramount importance,” a spokesman for Mr Morrison said in a statement to AAP.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 or Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467.