All The Best: Inside a Detention Centre

March 24th 2011

To follow up last week's Behind Closed Doors show on All The Best, we bring you an excerpt from one of our lovely guest's blogs. Jess is an inspiring woman who volunteered on one of our country's most controversial places: Christmas Island detention centre.

When I heard of the volunteer program on Christmas Island, I immediately applied. I knew that I had a unique opportunity to see what Australia is really doing with refugees that arrive on this island located 300km south of Indonesia.

Finding the ‘full story’ is a hard battle. Media uses words that dehumanise and accuse, like ‘cue jumpers’ and ‘boat people’. SMH papers were certainly painting a grim image with headlines like: “Self-harming refugees seek medical help”, and “Detainees sew lips together in Christmas Island protest”, to name just a few.

The truth is the headlines tell a side of Christmas Island that I could never associate with the people I met while I was there. The best way to describe my experience is to imagine the deepest edges in all varieties of emotions, and to switch between all of these just to communicate a simple sentence like “how are you today?”. This everyday, casual question takes on a whole new meaning when taken out of its usual context in a Sydney cafe, and a new level of compassion is needed to truly understand the depth of this once-simple exchange on CI.

Every person in the detention centres on CI has faced more trauma than I could ever imaginatively bear on my privileged shoulders. The journey across the open seas in an unsafe vessel is already horrific enough, let alone the trauma they are escaping, and the anxiety embedded in the future uncertainty of their lives – which may all end in vein, being denied a visa and sent back “home”.

Make sure to read Jess' full story. We also spoke to the NGO Amnesty International about the ever-present consideration of asylum seekers, and make sure to listen to last week's show featuring both these guests on All The Best.


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