Four Corners - About Woomera
To its backers, Woomera detention centre played a humane yet crucial role in housing the growing numbers of boat people landing on Australia's shores. To its critics, this heavily guarded cluster of buildings, ringed by red desert and razor wire, represented the dead heart of asylum-seeker policy.
Built for 400 people, it soon housed more than 1400. It became notorious for riots, protests and breakouts by desperate detainees. There were claims that mental illness and self-harm were rife. The allegations mounted... TV cameras recorded protests at the perimeter fence. Press reports warned of detainees' declining health and morale.
Yet when Woomera was quietly placed in mothballs, its full story remained to be told. Four Corners reporter Debbie Whitmont has now penetrated the obsessive secrecy that shrouded Woomera. Her report graphically exposes how this detention facility traumatised not only detainees, but also ordinary Australians who worked there.
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