A routine removal

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  • Published 20071204
  • ISBN: 9780733321276
  • Extent: 280 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

IT IS A cold winter evening and the visitors’ lounge at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre feels like the waiting room of a forlorn hospital, a place where you sit anticipating news that can only be bad. A few children’s drawings are sticky-taped to the besser-brick walls. Scuffed vending machines in the corner offer soft-drinks and snacks. The combination of antiseptic, pale blue paint, institutional steel chairs and strip fluoro lighting makes the room cold, even though the heating is up high.

I hear the family before I see them, children asking questions in a corridor behind curtained windows, the deep but muffled voice of an adult answering. When a guard unlocks the door that gives access to the detention centre proper,[i] Karoline greets me and invites me to sit. We have never met before but she has an ease that belies the strained circumstances. Her voice adds warmth to the bleak surroundings.

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