“I See Nothing but a Fence of Tears”: The Impact of Australia’s Immigration Detention and Border Protection Policies on the Asylum Seeker Child’s Geographies of Hope and Hopelessness
Keywords:unaccompanied, asylum seeker, child, Australia, Nauru, borders, emotion
As a signatory to both the United Nation Refugee Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Australia’s border protection policy to detain offshore asylum seekers who reach Australian borders by boat, including accompanied and unaccompanied minors, is under intense international scrutiny. In the context of Australia’s “Operation Sovereign Borders,” however, the asylum seeker child’s perspectives and their geographies of hope and hopelessness have not yet been fully explored. Drawing on recent literature within children’s geographies, which emphasizes the “emotional” matters within policy development and professional practice, and how they affect children, this paper seeks to contribute to emerging debates exploring borders, asylum seeker children, and children’s emotional geographies. Utilizing drawings, letters, and poems produced by children for an Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention on Nauru, a child-centred approach was applied to privilege children’s own perspective of their indefinite internment. The primary focus of the paper is to emphasize the ways in which “the asylum seeker child” constructs their own emotional geographies within the inherently complex and restrictive context of Australia’s border protection policy.