behind the wire for behind the label
Behind The Wire is an oral history project, sharing the stories of people who have experienced mandatory detention in Australia. Behind the Label is lucky enough to be able to share some of these stories here.
The following is an exert from Johns story, he was detained for three months after fleeing Afghanistan in 1999.
Read his full story and those of many others on behindthewire.org.au
" After three months in detention, some of the case managers and some of the centre managers they came and told us that they have our temporary visas. That was Christmas 1999. They said you’ll be going out after New Years, and we say no, take us out now. They said everything is closed, you’ll be staying in the street. We say we’re happy with that just take us out now.
There was no information given about Australia. When I was taken out, you had choice, you go to Sydney, or you go to Queensland or you go to Perth. I want to go to Queensland, and instead of taking us by plane they take us by bus. It was long and boring and tiring journey from one side of Australia to the other side of Australia. Then we settled in a government hostel which was not too far from the city. We always walk the Story Bridge to buy some food and bring back. We did not know how to use the bus, or ask anyone for help. We felt very scared.
I have fond memories of this Story Bridge – I had never seen such a big bridge with so many lights, so strange to me.
Back then people didn’t know anything about us aside from that boat people were queue jumpers. They didn’t know what Hazaras was; they said, we heard about you on the news, you Hazaras. What does that mean?
We were very disadvantaged because the law was changing — we weren’t entitled to healthcare, Medicare, social security, or job employment agencies, settlement support, any psychological counseling, none of those. I wanted to learn English but they said you weren’t allowed. I want to work, they say you not allowed.
For a long time you’re staying on this temporary visa, but you don’t know whether they sending you back or accepting you. A lot of people go mental, this uncertainty make them mental. "