Imogen Bailey is a woman on a mission. Imogen participated in Go Back Where You Came From Series II and aside from being a very busy woman working on her career, she is passionate about the question of children in mandatory detention and dedicates her time to campaigning to try to get the message to our politicians that the majority of Australians DO NOT want so see children in detention.
There is a Facebook page for you to like: http://www.facebook.com/pages/MAKE-the-CALL/304182263021396
There is a web site which provides more information, found at http://www.makethecall.info/, from which I stole Imogen’s video.
John and I love our children. These are the children of an asylum seeker detained for two years in Australia. While these children were NOT detained, because they were not here, they could well have been.
There is also a Twitter campaign started by Jessica Rowe with the hash tag #kidslikemine. You can check out that campaign here: http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/refugees-children-are-just-like-mine/
Please support Imogen’s campaign. Go to the website, call YOUR local MP. Like the Facebook page.
Australia’s mandatory detention policy receives criticism from many quarters: Amnesty International, the United Nations and many human rights organisations and refugee advocacy groups.
I am in a somewhat unique position to be able to say the effects do not disappear over night. I am married to a man who was in detention for many months. While much of Mr O’s time from 2004 was traumatic, I can see of all the situations he found himself in, it is mandatory detention that left the deepest psychological wounds. I am not going to go into details at the symptom level, but I do want to say mandatory detention is psychologically damaging. Mr O is an individual with great mental strength and intelligence – he can see the wounds and is taking the appropriate steps to heal. Naturally the children and I are a part of that healing process, to be there and support him. Miss O 2 is really too young to understand, but the boys and Miss O 1 do understand as much as they are able given their respective ages. My psychologist warned me before Mr O came home that given the length and nature of his journey, he may have difficulty adjusting to normal life. Yet the children also had a difficult time while they had no father: I worry that they also need healing at some level.
Last night Mr O described how he feels, in part: “It was as if I was bound with chains around my chest, pinning my arms to my side. That is how it felt. Now it is as if those chains still hold me, even though they are gone.”
As I guess most detainees do, he developed survival mechanisms in detention that do not work well in normal life. These tend to lock him in a bubble and at times it is like there is Mr O in his bubble and then the rest of us living a “normal” life. Slowly but surely we are breaking that bubble down.
Earlier this month I wrote a short article highlighting Amnesty International’s assessment in progress of our detention centres. Amnesty’s report is now available.
I quote (emphasis added):
In order for Australia to meet international human rights standards, Amnesty International recommends the following:
- A maximum 30 day time limit is placed on the detention of asylum seekers, so that all asylum seekers are moved into the community once health, character and identity checks are complete.
- Immigration detention centres that are remote and isolated be shut down as soon as possible.
- The shift towards processing asylum seekers in the community is expedited, with long-term detainees, families and unaccompanied minors moved out as a priority.
- In all detention centres, but particularly remote ones, asylum seekers ability to communicate with the outside world must be significantly improved. Specifically, increases in access to both outbound and inbound telephones, Internet, external activities, and visits from the Australian community.
There is further discussion to be found on Amnesty’s Australian site: http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/27943/
Regular readers will recall some time ago I submitted a summary of our story in 350 words to the Victorian Immigration Museum. Readers gave valuable feedback on drafts (see related links below)! Thank you! The other day I went looking for it on-line, but couldn’t find anything. Strange, I thought. I wrote to the Museum to check they had received it.
Today I received the following lovely response!
Thank you for your enquiry regarding your family’s story, which you submitted to the Immigration Discovery Centre.
We certainly did receive your story. I have just checked and it is published on our Share a Story database. This database is available on all the public computers in the Immigration Discovery Centre and is very much enjoyed by our visitors. Unfortunately Share a Story is not yet available online.
Your family’s story is a fascinating one. Thank you for contributing it to the Share a Story database.
Operations Coordinator, Discovery Centre
The reason I couldn’t find it was that part of the museum is not on-line, available within the museum only!
We know for example that Serco staff at the moment in some of the centres are provided with knives so that they can cut down people who are attempting to hang themselves.
- Louise Newman
I noticed a ”retweet” by Graeme Innes today. It linked to the above article. Louise Newman is a Professor at Monash University. Louise holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Philosophy Doctorate. Louise is also the head of the federal government’s Immigration Detention Health Advisory Group.