Four Corners - Guards' Story, The
They stand pristine and empty, cocooned in a silence broken intermittently by the roar of low-flying fighter jets. Woomera and Baxter detention centres, pitched in desert to confine thousands of people from across the seas, have outlived their idea. They exist as harsh monuments to history – with powerful stories to tell.
Many of those stories – tragic accounts of severely damaged asylum-seekers – were widely reported in the media, Four Corners included, despite authorities' strenuous efforts to keep the window shut on Woomera and Baxter.
Not so in the case of the men and women who ran the centres, whose job was to keep order in tense, often overcrowded conditions among traumatised people from alien cultures.
Now Four Corners hears the stories of the guards. Typically they got a few weeks' training before being sent in to quell riots and fights or deal with detainees slashing or hanging themselves.
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