Perpetual Insecurity 4f - Invisible Fences


Invisible Fences / Invisible People: ‘Protracted asylum seeker syndrome’

[imagecaption] ‘Balan’s story – an asylum seeker in western Sydney’, Vimeo, 2013. Video: Tom Greenwood. Bridging visas force people seeking asylum — whether they arrive by boat or by plane — to occupy a prolonged state where they belong neither here nor there. While these visas are a preferred alternative to detention, they do not provide freedom; they impose a myriad of other restrictions. [/imagecaption]


‘We are the forgotten people…we live in hell and no one sees, so no one cares.’

Bridging Visa Holder

‘Although the borderscape is a material geography of oceans, coastlines and spaces of indeterminate sovereignty such as offshore camps, the border at the same time operates through bodies and invisible lines of demarcation, and through technologies of isolation, abandonment, exclusion’ (Perera, 2016).

Bridging visas and community detention function as open air prisons. While the forms of confinement they enforce are not as evident as those of razor wire and steel fences, they produce similar effects over time. Bridging visa holders, and to an even greater extent people in community detention, are pushed to the margins of society; the conditions of their visas or ‘residence determinations’ are designed to prohibit full participation and foster social isolation. In a study involving people seeking asylum who arrived by plane, mental health professionals found that the refugee determination process can result in a clinical syndrome they term protracted asylum seeker syndrome.



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