Last night, ABC’s Four Corners exposed the reality of what life is like for the thousands of asylum seekers who are housed in Australia’s offshore processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island.
After being closed when the Labor Government came into power in 2007, the centres were reopened last year when two boats sunk off the north coast of Australia. The plan was to deter any other boats from entering Australian waters.
Through speaking to staff at the centres and sending in hidden cameras, reporter Debbie Whitmont outlined the harsh conditions these people are living in. One doctor who has worked at the Manus Island centre described the facilities as a “disaster, medically,”
“Almost from the day I arrived it was obvious to me that it was not a clinic that would work in its current state,” he said. “From early on I was sending lists both through my health services manager up there and directly to the medical staff of IHMS in Sydney saying, ‘look, we desperately need this stuff’.
“Stuff being oxygen, antibiotics, bladder catheters, suckers, tracheotomy equipment, anaesthetic agents, sedatives, morphine, ketamine, and these things didn’t arrive… for the first time in my life I felt ashamed to be an Australian up there seeing this squandering of money and this treatment of these poor, without exception, lovely people that I met.”
There were also reports of daily protests on the islands and of some detainees sewing their mouths, leaving only enough space to drink water through a straw.
Writer, Leila Druery visited a family who were living at Manus Island and were later moved to a facility onshore.
She wrote this post for Mamamia about what she found.
By LEILA DRUERY
I’ve recently befriended a young couple that were seeking safety and security on Australia’s shores.
They are both beautiful people, watching them even from afar I could see the care and love they had for each other. It was in their voice as they spoke to one another, the look on their faces when they are together and the effortless way their hands would intertwine as one as they embraced the young woman’s pregnant belly.
This young couple, seemingly with the world at their feet, were being indefinitely detained on Manus Island. They were living in the stifling heat day in day out, sleeping in temporary accommodation with little privacy, swallowing down malaria medication to stop them from contracting the disease and all the while watching the outside world pass by through the jagged confines of a barbed wire fence.