Detention Insanity

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.

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  1. Red Crab:

    1. there is already alegal definiton of “refugee” in the UN COnvention and in our own law.

    2. Are the statements of eminent psychiatrists good enough for you?

    3. If someone were to arrive in Australia in a psychiatrically damaged condition, which might have somethign to do with yoru definition problem, maybe, does that make it OK that we either make it worse, or at any rate put them on Nauru and don’t give them humane treatment for tha damage?

    4. If you were put in a position where you had to satisfy the definiton mentioned in part 1, would you ask advice about the best way to answer the questions you would surely be asked? A bit like getting coached for a job interview only a bit more important, see defintion of a refugee mentioned in point 1 (especially the part about beign in fear fortheir life)
    5. In our region there may well have been conflict for thousands of years. Does tha mean that the people there are somehow less in need of our protection? Does tha mean tht we ought not to have accepted refugees from Europe after Woorld War I & II, where they have been having conflicts for .. thousands of years. What a fatuous point.
    6. It was not meant as a tribute to your character, but merely to discover whether you have anything to pout forward except the suggestion of bringing back temporary protection visas, which had hte effect of stoppign people from re-uniting with their families, as well as imposing a most wicked financial burden on people for the crime of being a refugee.

    Many epople who have been sent back to Afghanistan, for example, have been killed on return. This is relevant to the defintion of point No 1 — the part about being killed if they were to return.

    As I thought, there is nothing in your reply that relates to humanity, compassion, the fact that AUstralia probably has about the fewest refugees arriving in the OECD countries, and in contrast to the plight of much poorer countries who generously take in thousands daily at times, and struggle to feed them, but acknowledge their plight, Australia’s response to the plight of the few who make it is is beneath disgust.

  2. another boat and another missing its a sad day.
    now go to the perthnow news site look up the article click on the comments \

  3. (While I wait for an earlier comment to be moderated, maybe I can say something else?)

    Red Crab – I’ve read the Perth now site, I’ve read the Adelaide now site – a lot of reactions written by people who clearly have no understanding of the situation – for example they want AUstralia to give Cocos and Christmas Islands to the Indonesians – they obviously have no idea WHY we hang onto them (hint: wealth for us) and most of the other remarks are as ill-informed. One Rhodes Scholar was so enraged that he couldn’t htink of much else to say than that the Prime Minister has red hair.

    Gee whiz – give her the sack now, then, in that case.

  4. interesting that you think that Cocos and Christmas islands in anyway bring some kind of wealth to Australia
    the only people who are getting rich from Christmas island is serco
    there are only 2 other things on the island that some small amount of money can be made
    tourists is one and phosphate is the other
    the govt has just about stopped mining there with licence restrictions .
    and the tourists don’t want to go there any more because of the detention centre.

    one small point the people of Christmas island had a referendum and voted to become Australian that my friend is the only reason why Christmas island is part of Australia.

    i think maybe the only way the govt mite save some sort of face is to agree with the opposition s pacific solution and show the people that it dose not work. that’s if that is the case only one way to find out .

    While I wait for an earlier comment to be moderated, maybe I can say something else?

    which comment would that be ??

  5. Red Crab – look up hydrocarbon resources and look up fisheries resources regarding the seas and islands to our northwest – then tell me again Australia doesn’t make anything out of the “ownership” of those territories.

    For someone who claims to know about the area … wow. You have a lot to catch up on.

    the comment about another comment is that it is not visibel to you becuase it has not been moderated – nothing for you to worry about.

  6. togret do you know just where Christmas island actually is situated.
    the is no hydrocarbon collection activity’s happening out there
    because of two good reasons
    1 ownership would defiantly be disputed by the Indonesian s
    2 its too dam deep to extract at the moment if there is any there at all
    as far as fishing goes there is no commercial fishing that i know of done by Australian fishers out there.
    3 there is no strategic value there for protection of the west coast and its resources its just too far out

    1 its too deep for net fishing
    2 most of it is marine park
    the only fishing there was a little charter game fishing but the detention centre and its uninvited guests have taken all the accommodation on the island so fishing tourists just don’t go there and the small charter operations have closed

    togret take a trip go have a look for yourself Andrew will agree with me its a wonderful place to see
    id even try to set up some fishing for you with the locals you mite even get to hear some real truth .now that would be something!!

  7. Red crab – yes, as I have mentioned before, I have been there. If you refuse to accept our economic activities in the zone, I’ll leave that for others to deal with.

    Todays’s Sydney Mornign Herlad letters page has this gem:
    “Boats of all sizes, including yachts and Indonesian fishing vessels routinely sail these waters in reasonable safety. Many convict and free settler Australian immigrants endured far more dangerous voyages. It is no crime to operate a licensed, passenger service. The crime, whether under Australian, Indonesian or international law is to negligently operate an unregistered, overloaded or unseaworthy vessel. That alone should be the criterion for confiscation of a vessel and prosecution of its crew and owner.

    When any boat, properly loaded and equipped, reaches an Australian port it should, like any airliner, cruise ship or yacht, be allowed to disembark its passengers under Immigration Department supervision and freely depart, even if to subsequently return with more asylum seekers. Australian and Indonesian acceptance of that legal traffic would eliminate the market for sub-standard refugee transport and truly ”break the people smugglers’ business model”.

    Murray Scott Heathcote”

    I’d like to know hwat, apart from prejudice, are the flaws with this?

    Someone rational, please.

  8. Under this model they need papers, passport etc. Just as most of them did to get to Indonesia in the first place.

    I say anyone with papaers welcome and be processed like anyone else, throw them away and your not welcome.

  9. Ken, there is a lot packed into your statement. You’d need to be assured that the people who discard papers (if they do have valid papers to discard – I’m no expert in this matter, but I do know that getting out/getting in to other countries might well be an exercise in finding someone to bribe) didn’t do so on the advice of the smugglers. If we can’t get a message directly to people about the dangers of the trip – and I know attempts have been made to do this in Indonesia, at least) – how do we get OUR message across about the needs for papers when the smugglers are clearly capable of convincing people that they can deliver what they want : safety and a future free of oppression?

    I agree that checking of identity as well as health and criminal record are good things, but I feel very sure that it is not as straight-forward as you suggest. What we need is a balanced and thoroughgoing investigation of the whole process, in conjunction with other countries in the region. What helps nobody is shooting from the lip – there has been too much of that already. It does not appear to be working – neither do TPVs when family, the opportunity to work, to study, to access medical care are blocked. Is it beyond us to treat people with humanity?

  10. Red crab – yes, as I have mentioned before, I have been there.
    ok well then if you are anything to do with asylum seekers or the govt
    you will not have been told some truths .
    i am no one and still have been told by people who were at some of these sad incidents what really happened and more.

    If you refuse to accept our economic activities in the zone, I’ll leave that for others to deal with.

    you and i both know the only economic activity out there is the bl….. detention centre !!! .

    Is it beyond us to treat people with humanity?
    what about the the bloke who had some damage to his hand last week they flew him on his own in an 80 seat plain to Perth hows that for caring
    it costs $30.000 in fuel for those jets to do that trip
    i saw something the same in royal Perth hospital and he waited for 10 hours to be seen (an Australian!!! )
    here is a small snipet you mite not have been told couple of years ago a Christmas island local went to there hospital seeking some help was told sorry where full of asylum seekers he later died hows that for humanity cant even get into there own hospital .

    i know you are going to moderated these comments but i dont know any other way to express the way i feel sorry
    where’s Paul Walter when i need him

  11. If we can’t get a message directly to people about the dangers of the trip – and I know attempts have been made to do this in Indonesia, at least) – how do we get OUR message across about the needs for papers when the smugglers are clearly capable of convincing people that they can deliver what they want : safety and a future free of oppression?

    Your question assumes that valid papers exist.

  12. togret it cost the Australian tax payer aprox 80 thousand dollars for each person and more if they have special needs
    at the average arrivals of some 300 per day now its not hard to work out aprox how much this is costing.

    the govt has lost control of who is comming here now why are we picking up people from within Indonesian waters .

    we must be the biggest joke around if a few smugglers can make fools of us .

    oh just a little told you so whos turning on the greens now .


    if the govt takes away the incentives from any one who arrives by boat they wont do the trip cant blame the smugglers for tacking advantage of a stupid government .

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