Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Detention Centres

I'm still obsessing over asylum seekers and detention centres.

I looked at three things today, not including a brief thing about Paul Keating and some immigration statistics from government PDF's.  

What I'm seeing is making me think that it's NOT simply a matter of asylum seekers having high expectations...wanting five star accommodations rather than two star.

Are they wanting a hotel and getting a hostel?


Probably not.

And I'm not just going by the three websites I visited this afternoon. They're all from the left side of the argument. I know I need to be aware that there are other viewpoints out there.

But there's one other thing that I looked at today. And it made me less skeptical about these websites. 


I can't say I did an exhaustive search.

But I was curious and plugged  Villawood Detention centres into the keyword thing.

I got three pages of photos. Most of them were of protesters protesting the detention centres.

I found no pictures from inside the place.  

Where are the pictures of people hanging out?

Eating and cooking meals together.

Playing sports

Doing crafts

Watching television

Hanging up laundry

Studying English together.   

The lack of photographs is creepy.   Spooky.


I looked at the photos this morning.

This afternoon I sat down to do more research.

First I found this disturbing editorial about children in the Christmas Island detention centre.

On Christmas day, some decent people got together and created craft kits for detained children, along with other gifts. They brought these gifts to the detention centre and were told by a guard that the children couldn't have them.   Why?  Because they might draw on the wall.

The good news is, the centre eventually changed their mind. It took several days, though.

And there's just something icky about that.

No crayons?

Then why do we allow any kids to use crayons?

What about all those crayons handed out at restaurants? Might kids ruin the restaurant walls?

How about schools?

There's something evil about a place that doesn't allow children to have crayons.

The editorial was written by a woman named Sophie Peer.  She's the campaign manager for an organization called Chilout. They're against children in detention centres.

They have a nice myth and facts page.  One thing that's been brought to my attention in the past few days is that there's no real queue.  I guess I heard that on Q and A? 

Anyway...It's not like people standing in line at Disney World, waiting for 45 minutes. Then a family comes along and buds in front of them.

It's like Disney World with no lines, and a mess of people waiting and waiting and waiting. There's no real order to it.

There's little hope, and probably no sense that an end is in sight.

The website also talks about the we'll-be-swamped-with-newbies myth.

Australia is being swamped by newbies, but most of them aren't asylum seekers. The website says Australia gains 300,000 new people a year. Refugees make up less than 1% of that. The rest are probably students, migrants, and new babies.  

After I looked over their myth page, and other stuff, I looked at Amnesty International.  

They went time in detention centres reduced. They also say they want more interaction with the community.   In all detention centres 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.

I definitely agree with that.

I'm not really sure I'm against detention centres.  Maybe change the name, though, because it sounds like a punishment.  And is a punishment. So they should change all that too.   

The thing is these people need a place to go. It's not like they're coming off the boats with money and great English skills.

Without the detention centre, a lot of them would be homeless. That's probably somewhat of an improvement over the detention centres, but not too much so.

My feeling is they should simply improve the centres.

I think the most important thing is to give people more freedom and contact with the community.

Also....allow crayons.  

I like the idea of volunteers collecting donations of craft materials from the community.  Detained folks can make crafts, and then they can have monthly craft fairs to sell their stuff. Maybe the artists could keep a portion of their earnings, and another portion would go towards improving the centres.

Maybe they could also have performances at the fair. So if some people are better at singing than making earrings, they can contribute too.

You know what will make me happy?

If one day I get a comment from someone in a detention centre.  In their not-so-advanced English, they'll tell me they live in a centre.  They can't wait to get out and live a regular life, but their life is fairly decent in the centre.  Also, their comment will link to their own blog.  There they will have lots of photos of the detention centres.  And they'll also have photos of outside the detention centres, because there will be lots of field trips.

You know what.

Schools in my mind are pretty much just a prison.  I'm not really in support of them. But I'll admit they're not as bad as a jail where you put criminals.  

So maybe they should make detention centres more like schools and less like jail.

Does anyone else have any ideas of how to make detention centres less awful?  I mean besides closing them down?

Edited To Add:  I ended up finding photos of detention centres.  They're in the next post.  I'm not sure if they're realistic images or government propaganda.  OR maybe what I read for this post is the propaganda. 

Perhaps it's all propaganda to a point.