Trapped in a prison with little hope of release
It is a prison. Literally enclosed in a cage – surrounded by steel-grille security fences. The logo on the door is of the Australian Border Force. It is a harsh term. It denotes punishment, helplessness against the might of the state. In the foyer, where visitors check in, there is a colour photo of an idyllic scene – a centre officer playing soccer with a child. The photo belies the reality, the sense of malaise that pervades the inmates.
It hits as soon as I step into the visitors’ room. There is something heavy here, despite the ample light, and the sight of a soccer pitch in the centre’s courtyard. Visiting hours have been curtailed to two hours. Once visitors could stay much longer. There was a group of young people, for instance, who would come for hours, play music, while away time with younger inmates.
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