A couple of weeks ago I went to visit an asylum detention centre to see what one is truly like particularly given all the media coverage, etc. surrounding it. It's something that had been on my to do list for a while as I find that most things in life you have to see it for yourself and then decide for yourself whether you believe it or not, and form your own perceptions.
And so I visited the Broadmeadows centre in Melbourne, which is based within a defence base. It's located not far from the local shopping centre and local residents and where I found my way there by bus. It is surrounded by perimeter fences, I guess to keep people in and out from the area. Contrary to what you might think as I originally thought it might be difficult to gain access to the place, however, provided you fill and send in any required forms and documentation and you make an appointment within visiting hours then you're allowed to visit.
When I visited I must say I almost felt like I was visiting a zoo but thankfully I went with a few others who went there to visit some friends that they've made in there before, so it made me feel like I could make a friend there too.
The place itself seemed quite peaceful, with the exception of the lockdown that the facility held, there were many items of convenience and things to help keep the refugees and individuals occupied and housed. Basic things such as food, water and shelter seemed to be provided as well as various forms of entertainment such as an Xbox, playstation, and access to the internet. This is important as I'd hate to think of what you could do each day if you're not exactly going to work or studying. Anyway, from that perspective they seemed adequately supplied, although I am not knowledgeable of any restrictions or limitations that they may have on access to these, only I saw that they were there...
From my discussions with individuals, some speaking of it, others you could see it in their eyes, and it was that their main concerns and frustrations was that they lacked freedom. For they desired the freedom to truly venture outside the facility as us full fledged citizens could, though I was told that special exceptions may be made if well behaved then they were able to visit the local shopping center, study etc.
Some briefly shared some of stories of the perilousness journey taken to arrive here, while others told of their journey so far in Australia from the various detention centres that they had been moving to and from. The visit itself I felt was a great experience which helped me understand and see things from for myself and for a chance to speak to the individuals involved. What we always have to recommend as we are all people seeking similar joys in life, although for some, achieving this is not as easy as it seems. Nonetheless, the experience is still yet one piece in the puzzle, how the pieces all comes together will be something interesting to see...
What can I bring to the detention centre?
For those thinking about visiting, my group was able to bring basic foods (we brought some nice turkish bread with some tasty dips :D) which we had cleared before we brought it in. We also brought a freebie along too but sadly we couldn't bring that in or didn't have a chance to use it (I think it was the latter reason though). So it's probably wise to check with the centre before you do plan on bringing anything in. Your personal items such as your wallet, mobile phone, car keys etc. will be kept in a locker before you enter. Anyways, I hope this info is helpful and you find the experience enlightening!