Everybody needs good neighbours
Another day brings another Defence scandal, prompting a colleague of mine to quip that the people of Inverbrackie and Woodside are probably grateful now there are refugees in the housing estate rather than military personnel.
He said it with a smile, but serious intent.
The Adelaide Hills’ Inverbrackie Detention Centre has not been without its own scandals since it became home to families from Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq.
First there was the Fruit Picking Incident. About six young asylum seekers scaled a fence - an internal fence, mind, they never got as far as the outside world - to pick fruit. They spent at least ten minutes picking cherry plums.
More recently, in another flagrant breach of security, a family of three escaped. The group - including a child in a stroller - were stopped immediately outside the front gate and returned inside before they could do anything… at all.
The numbers in Inverbrackie have swelled to almost 300 with the addition of four babies, born in detention. More dangerous strollers than ever before, then. More children who like fruit. Watch out.
Compare this, then, to the sordid and sickening tales emerging from the Defence force.
The 18-year-old cadet’s allegations of sex being taped and distributed was just the beginning, and seems to have cracked open an almighty can of worms from every corner of the military. Rapes, sexual assaults, bastardisations.
From all accounts Inverbrackie, when it was Defence housing, was a peaceful family environment, a neat and safe suburb.
By all accounts, it’s just as peaceful now despite the fact that parents can’t take a baby for a stroll in the beautiful Hills autumn sun.
Despite some initial grouchiness over the lack of consultation around turning the site into a detention centre, most locals now welcome their new neighbours.
But there remains a hard core of haters, working hard to spread fear and loathing about the asylum seekers.
One local resident writes:
Your Muslim friends have been let out of detention at Inverbrackie. On Monday April 1st we saw about 20 men (some with rags around their heads) inspecting a vineyard 3km from their detention at Inverbrackie… isn’t it nice to entertain them and let them have excursions?
I think the letter writer was being sarcastic. I’m concerned he thinks all Muslims are meant to be in detention. I’m not sure why the `rags’ offend him.
Then there’s Facebook, where haters go to thrive. On a protest website:
- Meg Prince is worried that the ``goat herders’’ will spread meningitis and expresses her concern that they may not be vaccinated. She remains blissfully unaware that the Adelaide Hills have more than their fair share of goat herders who roam free.
- Matt Gosling helpfully suggests that the asylum seekers should be burned to death, although he then pointed out that it was fire ban season. ``They are gona burn themselfs the idiots (sic, sic and sic),’’ he says.
- Nicholas Kossatch and Owen Parsons agree that burning the asylum seekers is an excellent idea, ``cheaper than sending them back’‘, says Owen.
The most sensible criticism of the ongoing coverage of the Defence scandals is that it risks tarring the whole force with the same brush.
Painting asylum seekers as evil, dirty terrorists is as sloppy and misinformed as it would be for me to claim Meg, Matt, Nicholas and Owen are representative of Adelaide Hills dwellers - which, thankfully, they are not.
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