Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 37: Broome - Derby

Just a small drive up the road to Derby town where I lived for few months last year. It was a great feeling to be travelling through the boab country and returning to this place and some of its folk…all of which holds a special place – I didn’t realise it left such a permanent mark on me. Made it in time for a quintessential Derby evening pastime… sunset from the iconic jetty – it didn’t disappoint. Michelle was kind enough to put us up (us being 7 people) – a big thank you.

Derby has also played a part in our more recent response to asylum seekers. It was at the Derby police station that Mohammed Kadem, as a 15 year old, was detained with his father and several other men. The group had been brought to the Derby police station as an example to the other detainees at Curtin immigration detention centre. The centre manager, according to Mohammed’s mother, wanted to demonstrate to the rest of the centre’s population should be obedient and docile. Mohammed was extremely traumatised by his two weeks without charge in the lock-up. He soiled his pants and was unable to change them. This was just the beginning of a litany of experiences, under the Australian government’s duty of care, that led to a deterioration of Mohammed’s mental health. By the time he was returned to Iraq (to Iraq, of all places!) he was suffering severe mental illness, had developed a substance addiction and had other chronic health problems. His whole family had imploded. Their story is told in detail in Dave’s book, Following Them Home: The Fate of the Returned Asylum Seekers which you can buy from the Project SafeCom

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