Tales from the desert camps

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  • Published 20050607
  • ISBN: 9780733316081
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

GETTING WORK IN Australian detention centres was once surprisingly easy. First, you sent your CV to Australasian Correctional Management’s head office in Sydney and within a couple of days you got a call asking when you could start. No formal interview, just questions about how soon you could leave.

“Alarm bells should have been ringing,” says psychologist Lyn Bender about her recruitment in March 2002, “but I wasn’t picking it because ACM was a great employer.” The recruitment officer gave her the phone number of a woman who’d recently returned. “Call her,” he said, “if you want to know what it’s like.” Looking back now, Bender describes the phone call as bizarre. The woman talked endlessly about the uniforms, which sounded hideous, and food that sounded worse. She made no mention of the asylum seekers or ethical issues connected to their internment.

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