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Safety and compassion for people in detention

Dear Minister Tudge,

I was distressed to learn of your intentions to deny the people being held in detention in the Mantra and Kangaroo Point hotels their connections to friends and family, by removing their access to the internet by phone or computer.

Many of us now have an inkling of what it means to live in lockdown, and it’s hard. But add to that a total inability to connect with friends and family online or by phone - as well as no end in sight either to the lockdown or to being cut off entirely from family and friends - and the mental health risks skyrocket. I find it hard to understand why you would want to unnecessarily compound in this way the dangerous mental health damage of lockdown on any group of people.

I also find it hard to understand why you believe these people should be detained in these hotels in the first place. Every single one of these people transferred to Australia under the Medevac legislation has undergone extensive background and criminal checks and were individually approved by your own Department to be transferred to Australia. They should be in safety in the community, where they can retain dignity and relative freedom and could contribute meaningfully to society while their claims for asylum are being processed.

From October 2017 to October 2018 I hosted in my small townhouse a middle-aged woman seeking asylum, with whom I still retain a close friendship. The lack of adequate governmental support and the many restrictions on her freedoms (including to work or to study) over the 7+-year process of her claiming asylum had left her destitute. For a full year, I slept on a mattress on the floor to accommodate her in my home, because I felt she deserved a safe home and a bed. Minister Tudge, what about you? What are you doing to demonstrate your humanity and show compassion to people trying to find safety and rebuild their lives after years of trauma?


Queensland resident


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