Deathscapes

Villawood 2a - A Site Marked by Violence

Deathscapes

A Site Marked by Violence

The name ‘Villawood’ is today synonymous with an Australian history of migration, detention and racialised violence. The layers of violence that inscribe this space begin with the Frontier Wars and the imposition of colonial names. The area, used mainly for farming, was first renamed ‘Woodville’ in an act of cartographic erasure of Indigenous history and land ownership. Wild dogs and dingos overran the area and traps were laid along Woodville Road (‘Dog Trap Road’) which connected the site to its broader surrounds. The name  later changed to ‘Villawood’.

During WWII the Leightonfield Munitions Factory was established on the site to aid the production of chemicals for munitions and arms. Post-war, the munitions factory was transformed into a Migrant Hostel which officially opened on 29 December 1949. This Hostel operated until 1984 when Villawood Immigration Detention Centre [IDC] took over the site.

During the early 2000s, as Australian policies towards refugees took on a punitive cast,  Villawood emerged as the primary site of death in Australia’s immigration detention network.

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A black and white photo in which two women operate a machine (detoluator) at the Commonwealth Explosives Factory.

[imagecaption] Villawood, NSW. c.1944, Two women operate a machine (detoluator) at the Commonwealth Explosives Factory, Australian War Memorial P00784.176[/imagecaption]

Blaxland, Hughes and Fowler, the three compounds that make up the Villawood complex,  each incarcerated a different cohort:  high security detainees, visa overstayers and people who arrived on boats, respectively. The deaths discussed here, one from each of these cohorts, evidence the systemic nature of the violence that inscribes this site.


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.

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