I was quick to realise that the clients were often not even called by their names – they were instead called by the boat number displayed on their photo ID card, which had to remain on them at all times. "673/RYB/039!". The practice reminded me of stories from concentration camps in the second world war.Really? You mean, apart from the planned result of those showers..?
One of the saddest places I worked at was referred to as "the induction shed". This is where asylum seekers are first led to after stepping onto the island's jetty. Once there they sit and wait, sometimes for hours, without any food or water.They’ve supposedly braved hardship, terror and a long sea voyage in unsuitable transport to get here yet the fact that there’s no (free) sandwiches for a few hours is intolerable?
As a mental health nurse, I would ask a series of questions outlined for us by the immigration department. These forms often asked unnecessary questions and avoided vital ones – we were told to "stick to the script".You're hired to do a job. They'll tell you how to do it. What's wrong with that?
It was there that I heard some of the most horrific and tragic of stories.Yes, I'm sure you did. So what?
Since returning from Christmas Island, my friends from school often ask me about my experience while at the pub. "Are you still helping support those bomb throwers?" they ask, adding that refugees are " taking our jobs". I feel a strong burning inside each time, and want to scream at them for showing such ignorance. But instead I tell them the story about the guy from Somalia, or the boy from Afghanistan. And when they listen, they see what I see. I give them information and facts, and it makes them think. That’s all I ask of people when it comes to the asylum seeker issue: just think about it, read more about it. Don’t take for granted that the government is doing the best thing.And if they think, and then still consider that open ended immigration isn't something they want to see?
I truly believe that most Australians would show much more compassion and understanding if they experienced what I have. I have never been ashamed to be Australian until I was thrown in this process.Compassion and understanding is all very well, but cramming Australia full of refugees isn't the answer.