Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Is this the next 'stolen generation'?

A report from the ABC:

Detention policy a bad part of history: Lawrence

The issue of long-term detention has again been the focus of the latest visit to Baxter detention centre by federal politicians.

The federal Parliament's Joint Migration Committee inspected the centre this afternoon.

The 10 committee members, including Labor MP Carmen Lawrence, also visited the the 40 women and children housed at the Port Augusta residential housing project.

Ms Lawrence says the detainees she spoke with told her they felt a lack of dignity a result of their indefinite detention.

"Many of them face the prospect of continuing detention and they couldn't see the end of it," she said.

"Looking at their faces, that sense of helplessness that you see and depression.

"A very large number of people in Baxter are depressed and being medicated for depression, and it's not surprising when you have that level of hopelessness."

Ms Lawrence says the policy is cruel and alternatives must be found.

"The idea that you can keep people indefinitely is an idea that should never have come and should you know be immediately set behind," she said.

"It was a bad piece of policy and a bad piece of Australia's history."

Ms Lawrence says the committee will make recommendations for change based on its visit, but it only has limited power.

It is more than likely that we are witnessing another dark chapter in Australia's history, one that will be looked back on with a similar sense of shame that we now view the 'stolen generation' with.

"You can judge politicians by how they treat refugees; they do to them what they would do to everyone else if they could get away with it" - Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

Listening to: Art of Fighting - Second Storey


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