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Commission Website: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

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Submission to National Inquiry

into Children in Immigration Detention from

Terri Mayr

Many, many people

in Australia are absolutely appalled at the treatment of asylum seekers

incarcerated in Australia, under conditions that contravene international

human rights conventions.

My knowledge of the

conditions in Woomera is better than most Australians as both my sister

and a good friend were employed in Woomera Detention Centre last year.

They have both told me endless stories that bring tears to my eyes and

tear at my heart.

I am ashamed that

I live in a country where such cruelty is perpetrated out of sight and

constantly lied about or denied, even if by omission.

In April 2002, Amnesty

International Australia asked for people to consider donating $1.50 AUD

stamps. These stamps would be provided to detainees to attach to donated

postcards to send to their mothers and family overseas. I was almost physically

sick when I read this. Certainly I was distressed for quite some time.

I could not stop thinking of wretched, depressed, hopeless asylum seekers

writing to their mother's on the back of kangaroos, koalas and platypuses;

traumatised innocent children leaning on their beds writing on the backs

of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Adelaide Tram and some of our finest

beaches - all sights they will never get to see themselves.

I correspond with

detainees and send small gifts to lighten a small moment in their days

of inhumane existence.

I support anyway

I can those detainees I meet who have been released into our community

under the restrictive uncertainty of a Temporary Protection Visa.

Prime Minister John

Howard recently told the Southern Cross Network that the Government is

listening to what people have got to say. "I don't want this country

to lose its strong tradition of civil liberties and its tradition of being

a liberal democracy," Mr Howard said. "It's treasuring of the

principles that somebody is innocent until proven guilty - all of [these]

things are very important," he said.

This country has

already lost it and he isn't listening to everyone.

I expect you will

see past the illusion of care and concern as exhibited by ACM and DIMIA.

I hope you can make a difference.



Updated 9 January 2003.