There is a well known definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The current humanitarian disaster unfolding in Australia’s immigration detention centres is a classic – and disgraceful example.
If there was one unequivocal, indisputable fact that arose from government policy and management of detention centres during the Howard era, it was that it was an incredibly expensive way of causing enormous mental and other harm to people – people who, as an aside, were neither accused nor convicted of any crime. Former Australian of the Year, Prof Pat McGorry, described them as mental illness factories, as have others.
Yet, after some promising signs of positive change in the early stages of the Rudd government, the approach in regards to detaining of asylum seekers that has been followed since by the government under both Rudd and Gillard has been almost indistinguishable from that under the Howard era.
And totally predictably, the outcome is exactly the same. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has just announced a new inquiry into suicide and self-harm in Australia’s detention centres. ABC’s Lateline is reporting concerns over both the adequacy of management and duty of care of asylum seekers, and the accuracy of reporting of incidents of self-harm in detention centres by Serco the private firm contracted to run these places.
So unnecessary. So unjustifiable. So appalling. So disgraceful.
And just plain insane.