Do not pass go, do not collect $200


The realization of obtaining the jail card in an innocent monopolization situation is hostile to swallow.

There is two alternative ways of attaining this card. The first is that you have committed a crime, gone back three spaces or have been selected by another competitor. The second is simply just ‘unlucky’ to land on that square.

The initial interpretation is in relation to a jail; a place where criminals go once a crime has been committed and sentenced by the courts. The second elucidation is relative to the ‘unlucky’ Refugees and Asylum Seekers finding themselves in a position thought to be parallel or inferior to prison, known as Nauru.

Credit: Taylor Rowe

The torture of not knowing can put anyone in a state of limbo. Envisage a place where you can see no end. After years of waiting for your name to be called, it becomes easy to give up. Having no visiting hours, no hope of leaving, limited connections back home, and restricted recreational, hygienic and educational resources with two guards to every human, a simple smile becomes a rarity.

Credit: Taylor Rowe

When someone obtains a Jail sentence for a criminal action, they receive an amount of time to be punished. It could be months, years or even life, the point is that mentally the preparation is healthier. The description and conditions of jail almost seem unrealistic.

Yes, a criminal has attained a sentence and their freedom stripped but is that the solitary negatives? All the books and education at your fingertips.  You can forget about a gym membership too! Access to visitors virtually each day is a supplementary bonus.

The negatives resort to accommodation being clinical, a sustainable claustrophobic feel beneath four walls whilst remaining locked in at night alongside inmates tending to become unpredictably cruel. Correlating and analysing this place in which criminals are sent too, to a place were innocent people seek refuge from a war stricken country are directed too, is distressingly accurate.

A loosely structured tent that wobbles from a slight gust of wind, an hour-long queue for the phone, internet, food and shower, 40 degree humid days, restricted laundry services, and limited medical attention. The ‘unknown’ factor is ultimately what differentiates a Detention Centre to a Jail. What this means is that because a criminal has a sentence which has an end date, there is a theme of hope and opportunity in the future.

While in Nauru, the central texture in the atmosphere is the ‘unknown’. No one knows when they will be processed, refuged or capable to arrive in a civilized country. After eight or so years stagnant with no date you can envisage a person losing hope and gradually but painfully becoming broken. With children, men and women all suffering depression and anxiety, the conditions become consequently dire.

When asylum becomes jail. Credit: Taylor Rowe.

Mark Gillespie who is a part of the Refugee action collective organisation, was spoken to by real and current Refugees and Asylum Seekers who have and are still going through a degree of mental illness.

A middle-aged to elder man rested his family’s future on his shoulders by undertaking a journey via boat. He is currently situated in Nauru’s detention center. His son remains at home in Iran with his elder, sick mother. He attains very restricted if any contact with back home.

He recognizes he is unable to do anything from where he is.

He knows also that the only reason he took part in this gut wrenching journey was to help however time is of the essence, which is not in his favor. With lack of sleep, he spends most his days walking in every possible space and circle to pass time.

He is becoming increasingly stressed on what might happen to his son if his wife was fatally ill. He is developing depression, anxiety and mental boundaries. He is still in Nauru.

Another man is accompanied by his 2-3 year old son. They only just make it through one day at a time by accepting the tough measures bought upon them. The child has developed anorexia and spends most its day screaming and crying for help, love and food. There is simply no satisfaction of the length or health of his child. There are many stories like this one.

“A 6-year-old child, held in detention with his parents pending the outcome of their application for refugee status, manifested psychological distress by repeated episodes of refusing to eat or drink. This case presented clinical and ethical dilemmas for health professionals who were constrained from acting in the child’s best interests by government policy of mandatory detention.” (MJA 2003; 179: 319-322)

The amassed suicide rate is forever increasing in these locations. From people swallowing razor blades to screws, even drugs and sexual assaults. Anything seems better than living in a never-ending limbo.

Presently the only way for a refugee to migrate to Australia is if their illness, medical condition or predicaments are rated “critical”. Then they are enabled to receive treatment in an Australian hospital. However once treated they immediately return. This element of false hope also endangers further mental issues.

Do not pass go. Credit: Taylor Rowe

The idea of the department of Immigration who is contracted out to International, Health and Medical Services (IHMS) have been allegedly pressured by the Government to prolong the patients stay until mental or medical issues hit a critical category. This is because the health system in Nauru is so minor the need for Australia’s help is desirable.

But the laws in Australian parliament and support of the general people do not coincide with permitting this to transpire.

Paul Stevenson who is an advocate, trauma psychologist and offshore processing whistle-blower has observed and stated that the conditions are ‘making life so difficult for people, it is as if they are trying to break their spirit and force them to return to persecution’.

People have no control over these circumstances. If you are well-behaved in jail, it can become calmer for you to live as the staff become friendlier, inmates are nicer and every day is more enjoyable. In a detention camp however if you behave correctly it does not make life easier or healthier.

Endless detention, endless limbo, endless depression IS torture.

The players in monopoly who are refugees and asylum seekers ultimately are not being processed (pass go), and they are not allowed to gain a civilized life (collect $200).

Depression is torture. Credit:Taylor Rowe.

When a family initially decides to play monopoly, everyone is perceived as equal. When a player unwillingly goes to jail, others see themselves as having an increased chance of winning, more opportunities and perhaps a feeling of superiority. That feeling becomes the situation of today.

Everyday citizens will not understand the exact predicament unless the truth is told, heard and shared.



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