PEOPLE

Joel Siegersma

Age: 23
Country of Birth: Australia
Education: Bachelor of Business (Banking and Finance)
Current Profession: Dealers Assistant

Any political affiliation:
lean pretty far to the right

Before I first visited detention, I thought:
Not really all that interested. Detention of people isnt something I lost sleep over

I came on the Baxter trip because:
It was a pretty big issue in the news and seemed to be something that could be interesting to find out about. Also because the chance to do something like this probably wouldnt come around again. and also because I had afew days off and nothing better to do

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was:
The people in there arent terrorists, they are relatively normal and are in the worst immaginable position one could be in.

I think Australia’s policy is like this because:
we still have a largely xenophobic culture that would prefer ‘whites’.

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be:
efficient processing of detainees. In 3 months a decision must be made to accept them, or send them home.

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is:
around 80% of detainees should not be in detention and would be an asset to society. 20% dont deserve to be here and should be sent home as they just are sick of or dont like their country.

Cristina Churruca

Country of Birth: Spain
Education: Degree in Political Sciences and Sociology, European Studies, Dr. in International Relations
Current Profession: Senior Researcher at the Institute of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, University of Bochum. Germany

Any political affiliation:
NO

Before I first visited detention, I thought:
It was awful.

I came on the Baxter trip because:
I wanted to see the condition of detainees and a detention centre in Australia.

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was:
The sense of uncertainty detainees had. No information from the authorities, no procedure, no time schedule. It was like being in the middle of nowhere “out of time”

I think Australia’s policy is like this because:
To say the truth I do not understand it.

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be:
Mandatory detention. It is cruel and completely unnecessary.

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is:
It is inhuman. Please go to a detention centre and see and speak to the people. Their only crime is to seek a better life.

Jessie Taylor

Age: 24
Country of Birth: Australia
Education: BA(Hons), LLB(Hons), MSc(HA)
Current Profession: Articled Clerk

Any political affiliation: my inner compass points towards justice, fairness,  compassion and understanding. That’s the closest thing I have to a political affiliation.

Before I first visited detention, I thought: it was a good way to ruin a nice afternoon. I wasn’t wrong…! 🙂

I came on the Baxter trip because: I organised it. It was touch and go though, for a while. As soon as we arrived at Halls Gap after our first few hours driving, I was stricken with a hieous dose of the food poisonings! That’s why I’m an unfortunate green-grey colour for most of the film…!  Just be hella glad WWBR doesn’t have a ‘bonus features’ disc…

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was: how human misery can be so inextricably linked with a physical place. And the effects of deprivation of freedom. I’m convinced that those who haven’t experienced it cannot imagine it.

I think Australia’s policy is like this because: hmmm. When I interviewed Malcolm Fraser for the film, I asked him this question and hoped for a long, complex answer (that had not occurred to me) relating to the evolution of racial politics in Australia.  His answer was “because Howard is playing on racial fear to win votes”.  I had hoped it was not that simple…

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be: everything. especially the indefiniteness (as showcased in Al-Kateb v Godwin).

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is: come and visit – just once. and then you may continue with your rants about illegals, queue jumpers and terrorists, if you still wish to…


Guido Cadenazzi

Age: 24
Country of Birth: Argentina
Education: BSc (Hons)
Current Profession: PhD Student

Any political affiliation:
Left

Before I first visited detention, I thought:
Man I hope it’s not as bad as Jessie says……………..it was.

I came on the Baxter trip because:
I was curious to see just how much of a threat to national security these people were. On a serious note, I wanted to see for myself the conditions these people are put in.

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was:
The calculated, deliberate machinery of it all – 10 metre high fences with razor wire, buzzers, metal detectors, video cameras, holding rooms for the visitors…..the middle of the desert.
I found two factors that have a terribly degrading effect on the detainees:
1/ The place is a prison and
2/ The detainees know that they could be calling that prison “home” for an indefinite period.

I think Australia’s policy is like this because:
The issue is very easy to tweak into a perceived threat. Nothing wins an election like a leader who protects us all from a danger they themselves manufacture.

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be:
The timescale – the possibility for indefinite detention. There should be a maximum timescale before decision must be made.

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is:
These people are NOT terrorists – They’re refugees.

Anything else you want to tell us?: This burrito is good but it is filling.
David Schmidt

Age: 28
Country of Birth: Australia
Education: yes please!
Current Profession: film maker

Any political affiliation:
not really.. still waiting for the right party.

Before I first visited detention, I thought:
I wouldn’t know what to say to detainees apart from “i’m sorry my country has done this”

I came on the Baxter trip because:
i wanted to find out more… and document it.

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was:
The uncertainty for the detainees.. and the depression that goes along with that.

I think Australia’s policy is like this because:
most people have been sold the wrong information about people seeking asylum ..

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be:
that detainees only be kept in a detention centre for maximum of 30 days for security and ID checks.

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is:
we have to get better at giving people a fair go.. our system breaches human rights and most Australian’s don’t even know that..!!! leading up to the election we need to again revisit what we think about this issue.

Anything else you want to tell us?:
i like ice-cream

Bec Rowe

Age: 25
Country of Birth: Australia
Education: Bachelor of Creative Arts, Diploma in Gold and Silversmithing, Diploma of Education
Current Profession: English Teacher at a boys’ secondary school

Any political affiliation:
Not quite sure. it changes between green and labour. i think i’ll be going labour this time. but nothing really thrills me – except the thought of John Howard disappearing.

Before I first visited detention, I thought:
that people didn’t actually suffer as much as they do. I didn’t agree with the policy, but didn’t realise how much grief it caused the recipients. Seeing it’s effect on people first hand (after visiting) actually made it quite clear to me. I also thought that refugees would be small, silent, thin people wrapped in rags and holding baskets and bundles – which they are not! I was pleasantly surprised to see how much like us they really are, in so many ways!

I came on the Baxter trip because:
I wanted to and felt it was important to visit friends i’d made on previous trips.

The thing that most struck me about Baxter was:
the isolation. the sterility, the depression. the absolute unneccesary unfairness of it all.

I think Australia’s policy is like this because:
we are a fearful and racist country and people are not informed and/or don’t care enough to stand up against such policies. We lack a collective empathy for people who are different to us. We are exclusive and feel the need to defend ourselves from outsiders.

If I could change one single thing about Australia’s refugee policy, it would be:
the length of time that people have to spend in detention. a few weeks maximum would be enough to do health and security checks, and if it isn’t, then asylum seekers should be housed in the community and monitored whilst other formalities are finalised. I would also make the centres, where people are briefly held, in cities where they have access to everything they need and are not forgotten out in the desert.

What I would like to say to Australians about detention is:
that we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting such an atrocity continue. This will not be forgotten and we are all responsible for making some noise about it.

One response

21 06 2007
Monica Maric

Dear friends,

Congratulations! the film was moving, inspiring and got me damn angry.

There is so much to do, especially, forgiving the past and making waves for a brighter and more positive future for all in Australia, and Globally, 1 to 1 , as 1.

Just a few questions, can I be in contact with the Producer and the psychologist of the film please.

And, with the facts presented in the film, I found that there were no positive outcomes of what the Govt/Diac are currently doing to help the refugees both remain in Oz and settle…..could you find anything?

I found that the focus was more on the past, and as it is without doubt that the past is unmistakably rotted with pain and horror, what progress has been made? I’d like to see the other side too.

I offer wellbeing and self development/trauma relief courses for settled refugees among other groups. If there are contacts that you think may be interested in such programmes that have proven ability to reduce stress and improve quality of life, please, please forward my information to them.

With love and best of luck…
We will overcome!

Monica Maric
Art of Living – Youth Initiatives
LifeAlive
Mobile: 0402 791 881

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