Australian Immigration Detention: Exploring its Depth, Weight, Tightness and Breadth as Experienced by Women Detainees

Lorena Rivas1
1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Immigration detention has ignited vigorous debate in political, public and academic forums globally. Questions arise in relation to human rights and international law, the ethics and efficacy of this policy approach, how it works as a means of border control and how it impacts on immigration detainees. This study explores and provides an in-depth examination of the experiences of women detainees in long-term immigration detention in Australia. It examines the effects of immigration detention on their mental, physical and social well-being by combining both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data publicly available from the Commonwealth Ombudsman are complemented by interviews with women previously held in immigration detention and immigration detention service providers. This study then describes how Crewe’s framework, that focuses on the individual and collective experiences of imprisonment, can help shed light on the lived experiences of women who have been held in Australian immigration detention. In conclusion, lessons for detention policies across Western nations are drawn from the Australian policy experience.

Lorena Rivas is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, and associated with the Griffith Criminology Institute. She attained a double degree in Psychological Science and Criminology and Criminal Justice and was awarded First Class Honours in Criminology and Criminal Justice for her dissertation that investigated the impact of long-term immigration detention on women detainees’ mental health and human rights. Building on this, Lorena’s doctoral thesis is taking a wider scope to investigate the impact of long-term immigration detention on the physical, mental and social well-being of women detainees.


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