“Detention’s like prison” Jalal’s Australian Detention Story

Jalal, whose family are originally from Afghanistan, left Iran, travelled as an unaccompanied 16 year old boy by boat to Australia, and was detained on Christmas Island and in a detention facility in Darwin for ten months. His story is one of loneliness, great risk and ongoing difficulty.

Jalal left Iran where he lived with his family, Afghani refugees who were living without documentation, to risk a long boat journey to Australia in order to seek asylum and a better life. Jalal had been born a refugee in Iran. He describes life in Iran- “The situation for Afghan people in Iran is so bad, so hard to live.” He speaks further, going on to describe the treacherous boat journey to Australia stating, “It was risky and so difficult. I had to cross the big ocean, just with the fishing boat.” Jalal’s life was so bad in Iran that he made this journey alone.

After making the extremely dangerous journey to Australia by boat at the age of only 16, as an unaccompanied minor, Jalal was detained by Australian authorities, first at the detention centre on Christmas Island for two months and later, for a further eight months at a facility on the mainland, in Darwin. He likens the detention experience as similar to that of being in prison- “I had bad situation, bad time in detention centre…we don’t have anything to do in detention. It’s like prison, detention’s like prison, detention centre’s no good.

Jalal’s experience of detention has clearly affected him and although now settled in Australia where he is studying English at TAFE, he says, “I’ll never forget the situation in the detention centre.”

(Interview by Sidat de Silva and Dale Kim, editing by Alison Myers)

* Jalal’s name has been changed.

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