“How’s that, that bit alright?”
The child nods.
“There ya go. Alright, you keep chillin’ out, yeah?”
The child quietly responds. “Yeah.”
Chastened, the door closes and the child is left alone to think about what he’s done.
* * *
Without knowing the context, this could be any other scene between a child and an adult.
Maybe they are being sent to their bedroom for being naughty. Maybe they are being tucked into bed after a tantrum, being told there’s no dinner for misbehaving. Maybe they’ll fall into a deep – if not a little bit hungry – sleep until the morning, when they would get a hug and a gentle tap on the nose for acting up.
But this is not your ‘normal’ Australian interaction between an adult and a child.
For starters, the child is in chains. It’s a young boy and, at just 17, he is manacled to the floor by his feet and to a metal chair by his hands. His neck is bound and held to the chair with a black rope.
Is he crying? Perhaps, but you cannot see a face because it is underneath a hood. My guess is that he learnt to stop crying about being treated this way a long time ago.
Topless, his soft, child-like belly rests on the white prison-issue pants, breathing heavily. Without a face, or a voice, all we can see is a young and frightened boy.
This is not a man. This is not a hardened criminal. This is your little brother, your son, your teenage neighbour. This is Dylan Voller, and he is Australian. This is happening to him IN Australia. BY Australians.
I wonder if Dylan knows that to be Australian at the moment, apparently, is to be extremely lucky?