My name is Patrick, and I am not a Liberal voter and never will be.
I have been known to have many a heated argument, defending policies with friends, family and strangers.
I wanted to raise with you some issues which have recently become apparent within MITA, the Melbourne detention facility, at the hands of Serco.
As a regular visitor to the Broadmeadows Detention facility, I find it heartbreaking to hear of the constant denial of the basic human rights and common dignities afforded to the detainees.
This nation has been built on the blood sweat and hardworking backs of immigrants. We have all grown up with people from other countries surrounding us, either in our schools or our communities.
It is what makes Australia such an amazing and unique place to live. Until recently, we have been an envy of other countries all around the world. When travelling, I have always been proud to tell strangers that I was Australian.
This has ended now. I am now vocally ashamed to be Australian. When did our values as a country change so drastically?
We have essentially turned our back on the very piece of international law that has built our country into the great power it is, the UN Convention of Refugees, 1952. The piece of legislation that saw so many of our Italian, Greek, Maltese, German, Polish and many other nationalities settle here after World War 2, and has assisted so many other people to settle here when their countries were being ravaged by wars, famine, terror and disaster.
Friends of mine who travel now tell people they are from New Zealand, as it has become too shameful to admit that they are from a land who does not respect people from other lands or with other beliefs.
I currently visit the Broadmeadows Detention Facility (MITA) specifically to spend time with the ASIO negatively assessed Tamil men. These men have been held in detention without charge (at least, none they have been informed of) for five or six years, and in some cases, longer than six years. This is at the same time as we have Domestic Violence Perpetrators serving 3 month suspended sentences. Drink Drivers serving 2 years but being released on good behaviour, and rapists being released on parole, often reoffending, as seen in the Jill Meagher case.
In recent months I have been listening to many in the media and even politics complaining that Indonesia has breached International Law by executing the two men, but there has not been any mention that our current government do the same every single day, leaving people in detention for over six years without charge.
In recent months, at the hands of Serco, I have heard of basic rights being stripped from these people, with the worst being the right to religious freedoms, and being denied weekly visits to temple. Originally this was due to be completely removed, however after many visitors voiced our disgust at these plans, it has now been offered fortnightly instead of weekly. Even this is a rather low ‘kick in the guts’, as many of these people are already broken and hurting, and now have their only avenue to be heard by their maker denied to them.
Other restrictions that have been put in place over the past few months are to have journeys to the market to purchase ingredients to cook meals with reduced, home visits to friends and family in the community restricted and reduced (all people must be vetoed by Serco, or the visit is cancelled), and most recently, restrictions on visits from members of the community. These visit restrictions are the harshest yet, and I believe are even stricter than a maximum security prison. These include calling between 9am and 1pm the day before and booking a place (which is often already ‘booked out’ – yet upon arrival, we have noted only 8-10 people in a 60 person room), paperwork must be filled out each and every visit, we cannot mix with others in the visitors room and must remain seated. all visits are limited to 2 hours, as all visits are given a time-slot. if you are late, or the paperwork delays your entry, your visit will be shorter.
Previously, we could arrive within visiting hours, produce ID, and enter the room. All detainees were welcome to enter, and did not need to be requested. For many, it was the highlight of their day to be able to mix with the community and to forget about their hardships for a few hours over a cup of tea as we chatted. This also allowed new arrivals from Nauru or other mainland centres to mingle, meet and socialise, giving them some much-needed human contact, friendly smiles and a hug when required. I have seen many people progress from a tightened ball of no-confidence into a happy, outgoing and smiling individual in a matter of months. It gave them hope to keep going, the strength to push forward, integrate into the visitors centre and even meet other detainees from different cultures and form friendships.
This new system has effectively ended this small glimmer of joy in their lives, and for no benefit to anyone, including Serco. The mental health ramifications will soon begin to show, and I have grave concerns for many people there. New arrivals from Nauru are now reportedly kept under guard, not even allowed to mingle with other detainees, let alone visitors. We cannot visit them, as no one can get their names to nominate them.
This effectively makes Nauru into a sick version of a Big Brother house. They are totally isolated from the outside world, monitored in every way, and if removed from the BigBrother house for medical reasons, are kept guarded, so as not to ‘ruin the game’.
further to the dehumanisation of these innocent persons, Serco have now, on top of monthly room searches, in which all of their belongings are inspected, upturned, mattress flipped etc (much like a prison cell inspection), they have now added full body pat-downs to each detainee.
This includes all Men, Women and Children (I have yet to hear of how young is too young, but I have heard of 6-8 year olds being subjected to this)
I have just been informed that one single woman had her room upturned by three male guards, then was given a pat-down by a male guard. She was extremely uncomfortable, but could not decline.
 
These searches are not due to information that these people have drugs, weapons or even a mobile phone, rather, they are routine and expected at least monthly.
 
As a trained and licensed security guard, I have always been told that ALL pat-downs need to be same-gender, which is mainly for comfort reasons, religious reasons and of course the protection from potential lawsuits, should someone claim they were inappropriately being touched.
This was basic training, given on day one of all training, and yet Serco seem to be overlooking this. I can only imagine what other regulations they are skirting around…
 
I ask you this. Would you be comfortable hearing of your wife or children being subjected to a physical pat-down by a n overbearing male guard, with no charge or guilt, but merely because they could?
Of course, I mean no disrespect with the previous question, only to highlight my point that this practice should not be condoned, regardless of your views on asylum seekers arriving by boat or by plane etc.
This needs to stop.
A group of us have already met with management of MITA, and have been told of the ‘wonderful things that are being done for detainees’ etc. I see these responses now to be total lies and fabrications.
further communications with the management team to clarify some of these allegations have gone unanswered.
Could you please pass this on to anyone who is asking the questions in the Senates Estimates committee?
I would like to know, how all of these restrictions are meant to be ‘saving money’, when in actual fact, it will cost us much more in regards to the mental health, wellbeing and dignity of these people.
the effects of our inhumane treatment of these wonderful, amazing people will be felt for generations.
thank you

Hello

My name is Patrick, and I have always been a Labor voter and supporter since I was first allowed to vote.
I have been known to have many a heated argument, defending policies with friends, family and strangers.
I have recently read that Labor, if they win at the next election, will take an even tougher stance to asylum seeker arrivals.
As a new visitor to the Broadmeadows Detention facility, I find this news to be disappointing.
This nation has been built on the blood sweat and hardworking backs of immigrants. We have all grown up with people from other countries surrounding us, either in our schools or our communities.
It is what makes Australia such an amazing and unique place to live. Until recently, we have been an envy of other countries all around the world. When travelling, I have always been proud to tell strangers that I was Australian.
This has ended now. I am now vocally ashamed to be Australian. When did our values as a country change so drastically?
We have essentially turned our back on the very piece of international law that has built our country into the great power it is, the UN Convention of Refugees, 1952. The piece of legislation that saw so many of our Italian, Greek, Maltese, German, Polish and many other nationalities settle here after World War 2, and has assisted so many other people to settle here when their countries were being ravaged by wars, famine, terror and disaster.
Friends of mine who travel now tell people they are from New Zealand, as it has become too shameful to admit that they are from a land who does not respect people from other lands or with other beliefs.
I currently visit the Broadmeadows Detention Facility (MITA) specifically to spend time with the ASIO negatively assessed Tamil men. These men have been held in detention without charge (at least, none they have been informed of) for five or six years, and in some cases, longer than six years. This is at the same time as we have Domestic Violence Perpetrators serving 3 month suspended sentences. Drink Drivers serving 2 years but being released on good behaviour, and rapists being released on parole, often reoffending, as seen in the Jill Meagher case.
In recent days I have been listening to many in the media and even politics complaining that Indonesia has breached International Law by executing the two men, but there has not been any mention that our current government do the same every single day, leaving people in detention for over six years without charge.
I ask, with the LNP practically handing you the leadership of this country on a platter with their disgusting abuse of human rights, their ignorance for international treaties and recommendations by the United Nations, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission, not to mention a common disregard for human decency, with Tony Abbott and his imbeciles constantly opening their mouths to the sound of completely farcical and moronic statements, press releases and god-forbid their foreign speech bluffs… with all of this, how can you now say that you will not only side with the LNP policies, but take them further?
This not only relates to the Asylum Seeker policies, of course. This also includes Metadata, Equal Rights for Same Sex Marriage, the Maintaining Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities, as well as a spate of smaller policies that the ALP have somehow not blocked, or even raised concerns.
Not so many years ago Labor held a convincing lead in the polls over John Howard. Although he was unpopular at the time, he was nowhere near the level of incompetence or danger of the current ‘leader’ of the LNP. How is it that Labor can now only manage a very slim margin of preference over this bumbling fool?
This is the least successful government of our great country that I have known. Please ask yourself why it is that Labor cannot have a convincing lead in the Two Party Preferred polls?
I fear that the Labor party has lost its way. It has lost its vision of a better Australia for all, and is now only trying to win votes in the polls. It is a dirty race to the bottom.
I do not want to vote for the Greens, however their humanitarian policies leave both major parties far behind. This is where your voting constituents are headed, and in droves. I feel my arm is being twisted and I am being forced to leave this once great party, and all in the name of common decency to innocent people who are only wanting to be treated with the dignity that they deserve.
Please try and remember your way, remember that without freedoms, justice and decency, we are no better than many of the countries we are currently at war with.
I look forward to your reply, and even the ability to discuss my concerns further, but as I have seen with past emails to members of Parliament, i expect a templated reply that does not answer any questions but “values my input into important matters.”

I’d be happy to tell you why I choose to visit the detention centre in Broadmeadows.

I began visiting after hearing Julian Burnside QC speaking of the atrocious and sub-sub-standard conditions within the offshore centres. I simply couldn’t believe the media were not reporting on it! After all, we hear of every Kardashian update, or The Block eviction, why do we not hear about our own government’s treatment of these people in need?

We asked Mr. Burnside afterward if there was anything we could do, as only a few members of the public, with no means to change laws or make any noticeable difference. He replied simply “Yes, visit them, let them know they are not in it alone and that people in Australia care for their wellbeing and futures”.

We arranged to visit in the following weeks, and since then, I have always done my best to leave my everyday baggage outside, listen to their troubles, help them when I can and always offer them a hug.

So in answer to the original question, I visit the people at Broadmeadows because they have become my friends, and a part of my family. I have since taken my mother to visit them, and now she is always asking how they are, as they ask about her. She cares for them as she would care for her own children, even knitting them winter clothing. They all ask “How is mum?”.

The Negatively assessed Tamil guys at Broadmeadows, as well as all other people I have met there, are some of the nicest, most sincere, caring and kind-hearted people I have ever met. This country would benefit from their compassion, humour and many talents, if only they would stop hearing the word “Illegal” and actually spent the time to meet with the real people in these situations.

These innocent people have been detained for six years without charge, without sentencing, and with no end in sight. ASIO have vowed to keep them detained until circumstances change. They will not disclose their reasons for incarcerating these people, making it virtually impossible for them to defend themselves in a court of law. In another cruel twist, the asylum seekers cannot return home, as they have been granted Refugee status here in Australia. They are permitted to stay, but only as prisoners in the care of Immigration, never being charged with any crime.

For the past 10 months, I have been visiting an Immigration Detention Centre in Melbourne. In this time, I have meet some of the most amazing, strong, determined and brave people I think that I will ever meet. For many, their incarceration has been over 6 years. They have not been charged with any crime or offence, nor have they been told why they are being held.

Essentially, they are being held indefinitely, with no end in sight. The only reasons given is, that ASIO has determined them to be ‘undesirable’. No further explanation has been given, and therefore no chance for the detainees to defend any accusations made against them.

Imagine for a moment that you and your family were faced with potential harm, murder, rape, beatings, incarceration or persecution for your beliefs, your values or simply due to the colour of your skin, all at the hands of your government. Obviously you would want to flee before you are discovered, to avoid these terrible things happening to you and your loved ones.

Searching the area, you realise that surrounding countries have extradition deals with your country, meaning that if you sought shelter there, you risk being sent back immediately to receive your fate.

Your options limited, you now seek a country that is a signatory to the UN Convention for Refugees (1951), meaning that they must accept you, process you in a timely manner, and assist with your settlement (and NOT send you back to the horrors that you have fled from).

Australia in your sights, you take a harrowing journey on a leaky boat, with no one on the boat able to swim, all fearful for their lives, but knowing that even this fate is a better choice than the horrors you are fleeing from.

Upon arrival, you are snatched up, whisked away, perhaps separated from your spouse, children or friends. Interrogated, and given a number (replacing your name) you are sent to a camp on a remote island. You are unsure if your family are arriving there also, or if they are sent elsewhere. Scared and alone, you discover that some people have been there in the camp for 18 months, 2 years, 3 years… Surely they are isolated incidents?

Eventually you are reunited with your family. Huddled together, you find that you now need to clamber for food, water, showers, toilets, sanitary products, soap, and even clothing. This is still better than where you have fled from, albeit rather inhumane.

Eventually one of your loved ones falls ill. Now you can experience the terror of being ignored when pleading with your captors for medical assistance. Doctors are only available 1-2 days a week, and the nearest hospital is partly burned down and riddled with Asbestos. For extreme cases, there are rumours that they can fly the sick person to the mainland, but they remain under guard and handcuffed like a criminal. Once well, they are returned to the camp. Sanitary conditions are below most standards of the developed world, with no water for toilets, 2 minute showers to conserve what water is available, and general filth coating every wall that you have seen.

As the months pass by, and slowly turn into years, you realise that this is your life. This is all you have now. It is still a better option than the terrors you have left behind, but every day has you question if it all might have been easier if you had stayed and faced the government, possibly being executed or forced to watch on as your daughters, wife and mother are raped before you are killed.

If faced with these circumstances, what would you do? Of course, I will assume that you would at least expect better treatment in the camp, or perhaps you would demand to be released, as you are seeking asylum? Now imagine that the government holds you in the camp indefinitely, without charge, without reason, and without communication. Essentially locking you up for the remainder of your life, simply for wanting to pursue the basic human right to feel safe and not fear being murdered or raped. I will assume you would be rather upset, angry, saddened, angry and most likely anxious and depressed.

THIS is happening in Australia right now. Today. In 2015.
THIS is an embarrassment to this once great country of ours.
Are we not better than this? Surely this is not how we want to be remembered in the history books?

6 Hours for 6 Years #6yearstoolong

6 Hours for 6 Years
#6yearstoolong

With Christmas quickly approaching, and family gatherings only days away, I felt that I should make a post.

I didn’t want to post all about the stereotypical stuff, but instead, I wanted to remind people who not everyone in our society has the luxury of a family to be with, or even food to eat.

For many, Christmas time is not a happy time. This could be for many reasons. Perhaps it serves as a reminder to them that their own family or friends circle has disowned them, has lost contact or simply wants nothing to do with them anymore. It could be a reminder of bad life-choices they have made, perhaps with alcohol or drug abuse, causing children and family to actively disassociate themselves.
For others, it could be a reminder of a less than ideal childhood. Christmas is often a time when domestic violence, child abuse and family disagreements flare up, showing themselves in their full, ugly glory. For these families, Christmas is almost dreaded as it nears, with family members bracing themselves for the upcoming explosion of negativity in their homes.

There are people in Australia who are spending their first (or indeed their 5th or 6th) Christmas alone. They have no family here with them, perhaps living on their own with few friends around them. Some may not even be able to speak English, and are experiencing complete isolation from others in ways that many of us cannot even fathom.

Other people reflect on this time as a reminder of what the ‘average family’, or what is portrayed on television and in films should be, and how different their own family gathers are. They see the cracks in their family, the negativity and the hatred between certain members, and this can bring on sadness and even depression for many. No amount of “But it’s Christmas!” or “Fa-la-la-la-laa’ing” will change these thoughts, no matter how hard people try.

I myself have come from an abusive home growing up. This is no secret, and I have posted about this in the past on this blog. Mostly, it was verbal abuse or at least emotional abuse. There was some physical abuse as well, but it was not as bad as many others have received, and the physical was definitely a distant second to the emotional and verbal abuses. All of these things have forever tarnished my christmas experience, as my most vivid memories of christmas involve the christmas tree being thrown across the room and broken, presents beings stomped on before they could be unwrapped or on one occasion, opened before us and then destroyed. As a child, my memories of christmas should be of happy times with small gifts from loved ones, and not of these things. Now, even the sound of christmas music brings these terrible memories back into my mind.

Of course, my story is hardly the worst, and I am not trying to win any awards for this. I only mention it here to point out that people who may seem happy and strong on the outside may not always be the same on the inside. Christmas can amplify these emotions and memories for many.

The point I was hoping to make with this post is, if you see someone who is seeming down, or know of someone who may be spending christmas alone this year, perhaps offer them a seat at your table, or even a hot cup of coffee and a chat. Sometimes its the smallest of gestures that can change someone’s perspective on a situation. This is the season for giving, and respect for our fellow persons. Do not do this out of pity, but do it out of kindness and love. Everyone should be able to have at least one happy christmas memory, and it is never too late to start creating them.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

I have been embarrassed to be an Australian since this bunch of manic sociopaths cheated and lied their way into parliament. Today, I am officially ashamed to be Australian… a county that has been built on immigration since 1788, and being one of the most multicultural countries in the developed world… simply denying settlement of those who are fleeing murder, genocide, rape, torture, persecution and even “disappearance”, and then offering an olive branch by using the children in detention as a bargaining chip for your disgusting offer?

The UN are watching. The World is watching. Scott Morrison, you are a vile little man, and I personally cannot wait until you see the Hague and are sentenced under International Law for your total disregard for Human Rights, the incarceration of unaccompanied minors and children as young as 6 weeks old and Common Decency toward fellow men and women.
http://www.abc.net.au/…/the-senate-has-agreed-to-re…/5945576
Senator Scott Ludlam speaks volumes about the justices of this disgusting bill… Scott Morrison simply wants more power for himself, with no regard to the innocent lives he is essentially placing into limbo. Using the children currently in detention as a bargaining chip for his own sick agenda, is simply deplorable…
http://youtu.be/ha0Zni_7sDE


Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
 tells it as it is… a disgusting, vile, appalling and embarrassing turn of events…

For members of Parliament to hand out others phone numbers and have the children in detention call the senators and tug at their heartstrings, and play on the political minefield, and not get them out of detention (which could have been done at any time by Scott Morrison) in exchange for introducing TPV Visas, which will give people 3 years of uncertainty, no ability to work, and after 3 years, the very real possibility of being sent back to the hell that was their home, is simply disgusting. How dare they give out phone numbers. How dare they use the children as negotiators for their sick games…

If the government had nothing to hide, and the detention centres arren’t as disgusting, abusive, dangerous and potentially life-threatening, enough for the children to need to beg for their release, then why do they constantly deny the UN, Gillian Triggs, Julian Burnside QC, Labor, Greens and other parliament members, Media (that aren’t Murdoch press) entry to talk with the people there? What is so bad that they find the need to hide it from the world??
http://youtu.be/IACpF6Nth6s

Continuing with my Novel

Posted: September 30, 2014 in Personal
Tags:

so, a few months after revealing I was working on my Novel, I thought I would update you all on its progress. (see here)

I have now passed the 60,000 word count, with plenty more to go. I have jotted down the framework, plot points and points of interest that need to be included. There will be seven sections in total, some longer than others, as they are significant parts to the story.
I am currently half-way through the second section, with the first section already edited and at a point where I can move forward. I wanted to treat each section as a separate story, so as to avoid a huge headache when editing and checking for continuity etc. so with all of this in mind, I feel that I am well on my way.

As in the previous update, I thought I should include a teaser paragraph for you all… To put this into some sort of context, a character has now started writing a novel within the story, so this is the introduction to her novel.

“We departed our home, the only place we had known and was familiar to us, and departed on a journey into the unknown. Although aware of our destination, the journey would be long and riddled with unknown obstacles. It would deliver us to the shores of a faraway land, devoid of friends, family or persons known to us. An entire family, born again into an unfamiliar world. Yet, we make this journey of our own accord, under no duress. We do not flee to evade the law, and yet we are destined for the penal colonies of yesteryear.

I am surrounded by people, and yet feeling alone. My best friend is far from me, and now the distance will forever grow. My yearning to be held in the safe confines of our tree, sitting together and forgetting about our troubles will never leave the depths of my heart, and my memories will never fade. Forever will I be reminded of my friend, each time I gaze upon an old tree by the water.”

I am looking forward to updating you all on the upcoming stages, as they are completed!