It was one of the rare times I have the radio on in the car and it was news time. I was chauffeuring Master BG to a birthday party, when a report came on about a Federal Parliament Inquiry into Immigration Detention Centres which called for a maximum period of 90 days in detention for asylum seekers.
‘What?’ I was a bit preoccupied with listening to the news and driving around the Lake at a busy time of day.
‘3 months is a long time to be in detention. What’s detention?’
‘Well, it’s a bit like being in prison.’
‘Why are the people in detention?’
I turn the radio off- there is no way I can listen, drive and talk.
‘Well these people have come from overseas, from places and countries which are very violent and have wars and they want a better life. But when they arrive, they have no papers.’
‘What do you mean they have no papers?’
‘Well, they may not have the right forms to fill in, or they don’t know how to fill them in. Some of them don’t have passports.’
‘Really?!’ Master BG has a passport, so he knows all about needing them when going overseas.
‘Yes. So they have to stay in these detention centres, while the right forms get filled in and everything gets checked. But they don’t like it, because it’s like prison and they become very unhappy and get sick.’
‘Do they have things on the windows?’ I figure out he means bars and say yes, they do.
‘Oh I wouldn’t want to stay in there.’ he says emphatically, as we pull up outside the party venue.
‘No, mate, you’re lucky you don’t have to, ‘ I reply as I hold his little hand as we walk up the path.