Villawood 2g - Not-Australia



1992 was a watershed year in which the mandatory detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat was first instituted.

‘There are foreign people in Australia thinking foreign thoughts. Some are locked up in Villawood, at the detention centre. Some are restrained in Perth. In those places, you see, they are not really in Australia. They are in the empty ungoverned space of their bodies, I guess, confined within not-Australia.’

Bernard Cohen, ‘Aliens’

The institution of Not-Australia  as a place of confinement operated in tandem with the increasing privatisation of the apparatus of corrections and security. The hostel, detention centre and prison became sites whose inmates where subjected to practices of criminalisation enforced by a privatised workforce drawn from the global corrections industry. Razor wire, surveillance apparatus, staged security fences and barriers became part of the architecture of civil suburban sites.


A large group of people are viewed from above, sitting on a large ship (The Tampa). Orange shipping containers frame the view.

[imagecaption]The MV Tampa. Photo: Wallenius Wilhelmsen/AAP. The MV Tampa rescued 438 asylum seekers from a stricken boat in the waters between Indonesia and Australia.[/imagecaption]

A photo of an old ship with the words 'Boat People' below, projected onto the Sydney Opera House.

[imagecaption] Deborah Kelly, ‘Boat People’, Sydney Opera House, 2001. Photo: Armedia. [/imagecaption]


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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.