Despite considerable research on the impact of Australia’s mandatory detention policy on children, there is sparse focus on asylum seeker children’s own perspectives of how they conceptualise their experiences of living in detention. We were curious to understand how children in detention would convey their views on their circumstances through the medium of drawing. This paper uses secondary data analysis to explore children’s perspectives by considering key themes from two drawings created by asylum seeker children in Australian immigration detention centres: one from the Australian Human Rights Commissions’ Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014 report, and another published in prominent Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald. The focus on children’s first-hand experiences of mandatory detention through a non-invasive method conveyed a strong sense of isolation and ostracism, and revealed the mental health impacts on children and their families. These examples show that children were clearly able to convey how their rights were violated in the context of detention. Emerging themes highlight how children’s insightful perspectives of their own experiences are neglected in broader discourses, and provide a rationale for further visual research to provide nuanced understandings of asylum seeker wellbeing and children’s rights in particular.
SOURCE: Lenette, Caroline; Karan, Prasheela; Chrysostomou, Dearna & Athanasopoulos, Anthea. “What is It Like Living in Detention? Insights from Asylum Seeker Children’s Drawings.” Australian Journal of Human Rights, vol. 23, no. 1 (2017)
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