Children in detention as caged birds


It's Like That
Written by Sophie Raymond
Directed by the Southern Ladies Animation Group
Showing at the Darwin Film Society's Flix In The Wet, Birch Carroll and Coyle Cinema, march 13, 14 & 21
For session times, phone (08) 8981 0700 or visit <>


The horrors of the Australian government's mandatory detention policy are never more vividly illustrated than with the voices and drawings of the children who have been incarcerated, some for most of their lives, in refugee prisons.

It is the words of some of these children that inspired the Southern Ladies Animation Group, a group of independent animators based in Melbourne, to produce a short animated documentary that highlights the experiences of children in detention.

It's Like That is an eight-minute animation based on the recorded voices of three children in detention who were interviewed by radio journalist Jacqueline Arias over the phone in 2002.

The children are depicted as caged migratory birds. They reflect on their environment, the food and what they imagine Australia is like "outside".

"There's nothing... just fence. It's white and brown, Cigarettes. The colour of cigarettes", says one child. "It's like being sent to jail, you know the jail? ... it's like that."

The film has won a string of accolades including Best Documentary, 2004 St Kilda Film Festival; best Australian animation, Melbourne International Animation Festival 2004; best film & best animation, Shepparton Short Film Festival 2004.

The children featured in the animation have been released with their families, and are living in the community on bridging visas, still facing an uncertain future. But many remain in detention. As of February 9 there were still 61 children being held in detention centers, and another 24 detained in other declared "places of detention", including hospitals and motels.

For details of other screenings, email Nicole McKinnon at <>.

From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.

Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

Become a Green Left supporter today

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.