I was a child internee in a Family Camp in Victoria for two years of World War II. Our mother had illegally arranged for our detention after first our father and then our aunt were interned as enemy aliens; my mother was concerned about war-related hostility we children were encountering. Though the camp was crowded and initially quite unhygienic, we were grateful that our family was reunited there and could stay together.
In those years, eight close relatives were killed or died. For me, as a child in this dangerous world, separation from the family became the worst of all nightmares. Being locked up among friendly people was simply a different way of life. Things became more difficult again after our early release.
I think we cannot assume that detention is always a major problem for children and that separation from their parents is not. If the asylum seeker issue can really only be dealt with in this way, then friendly family camps may not be the worst option for traumatized children.
– Silke Hesse, CLA member, Mulgrave, Victoria