- Slides: 20
“THERE IS NO WORSE TORTURE THAN NOT KNOWING…”: THE WAITING GAME OF AUSTRALIA’S BORDER PROTECTION POLICIES AND THE EFFECTS ON TRAUMA AND RECOVERY.
• This presentation will focus on the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia’s detention center on Nauru. • I will provide a background to Australia’s political situation and migration policy of offshore detention and the psychological harm experienced by refugees/asylum.
• I will summarize both the trauma-counselling and group-work methods that provide vital support to survivors of torture and trauma and the limitations to supportive counselling and advocacy, including the harsh environment of detention centers and government policy.
• Source: Independent Australia In July 2015, the Australian Government passed legislation making it illegal for immigration detention centre employees to disclose information about the situation on Nauru and Manus Island. The information presented relies on my experiences in Nauru prior to July 1 st 2015 or information that is readily available in the public domain.
Source: ABC News • From July 19, 2013, any asylum seeker reaching Australia by boat will be barred from ever residing or resettling in Australia regardless of their refugee status. All asylum seekers would be sent to offshore processing centres and, even if granted refugee status, would need to be resettled in another/(3 rd) country.
Source: BBC News • According to the Nauruan government’s current estimates, the island’s population is approximately 10, 000 people, with 10 percent of those being refugees and asylum seekers. Nauru is also known as a country with the most obese people in the world, where 97% of its men and 93% of the women are either obese or overweight.
• Source: ABC News On July 19, 2013, the day the Australian Government announced that any asylum seeker who arrived by boat would never be settled in Australia, there was a major riot in the Centre. Staff accommodation blocks, offices, dining room, education and sports facilities and the health centre were burned to the ground. The incident left damages of over 60 million Australian dollars.
• Source: Time. com The Australian resettlement program with Cambodia had a cost of $55 million Australian dollars, approximately $41 million US dollars; Out of five (5) people resettled there only two (2) still remain in the country.
• Source: Reuters. Depression, dissociation, severe anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, loss of short-term memory, suicidal ideation, selfharm, isolation, enhanced arousal symptoms, parasomnias, anger and generalized suspicion became the presentation ‘norm’ for many of the asylum seekers.
• Source: The Courier. Hopelessness, depression and acute anxiety affected the majority of my clients. Comments such as: “I left a certain death in my country to die slowly here”, “At least there they will shoot me in the head and my problems will be over” or “I will like to have the strength to kill my kids and myself to stop all our problems” were frequent.
• Source: Opc. Voice. com. Unfortunately, the value of asylum seekers as independent, capable and knowledgeable people was only respected or considered by Immigration, the Australian Government and even, in some cases, IHMS, when their mental wellbeing or behavior started to be seen as a problem which could spread amongst others.
EXPLICIT IMAGES • Some of the cases that have received media attention.
Machete attack Taken from https: //www. theguardian. com/world/2016/mar/10/naururefugee-left-with-horrific-head-wound-after-attack-dismissed-bypolice
Presumed Gang attack
Rape Taken from http: //www. abc. net. au/news/2015 -10 -21/alleged-shortfalls-in-treatment-of-nauru-rapevictim/6872582
Social Pressure Source: Provided
Source: Sydney Morning Herald • Many of the behaviours exhibited by refugees are in response to the pressures from Australia’s immigration policies, the traumas suffered pre-and post detention, and the conflicts arising between their new environment and their culture.
Source: Radio New Zealand • The premise of acknowledgement at being a survivor did not apply to them, because in their eyes their journey was not yet over, as there was no safety or a desirable future being offered.
Source: Provided • “I have a good reason to wake up on Fridays, I know that I will have some nice food, laughter and for some hours feel that I have my life back, that I’m back amongst my friends” – Somalian woman during group therapy at Hope house in Nauru.
• “…Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goosestepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost…” (Charles Chaplin; The Great Dictator; 1940).