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Episode 4: A lifetime locked in detention

Illustration of a house and woman by TabzA

I can't go back, but… I haven't seen my kids for nine years. I need something. There is an uncertain future for me.


Every person in the legacy caseload was detained. Then everyone had to wait. Some were released into the community to wait, and some, like Kumar, were stuck in one detention centre after another. They all were waiting for the Immigration Minister to allow them to even apply for protection. 

Only after the Minister’s approval could they file 40-plus pages of paperwork – and wait. Months passed, maybe years passed, before they were invited for an interview. The interview that would last 20 minutes, or, for Kumar, nine hours. The interview that determines whether Australia believes you are a refugee. It can change everything.


The voices in Temporary come alive in longform journalism – vividly illustrated by photographers and artists who themselves are refugees and people seeking asylum – on a series hub produced by UNSW’s Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.

Temporary is hosted by Sisonke Msimang, and produced by Kara Jensen-Mackinnon and Miles Herbert, with editorial support from Lauren Martin and Miles Martignoni. Original music composed by Lama Zakharia, mixed and mastered by Ryan Pemberton, with series artwork by Matt Huynh. Temporary is a project from the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law co-produced with Guardian Australia, inspired by the book Refugee Rights and Policy Wrongs by Jane McAdam and Fiona Chong. Illustration by TabzA.

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