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MacKillop Museum showing detainee children's trauma in art

An touring exhibition featuring drawings by children held at the Woomera Detention Centre is set to open at the Mary MacKillop Place Museum in North Sydney.

The exhibition, Innocent Victims: Children's Drawings from the Woomera Detention Centre, depicts the lives of children in our desert detention centre as seen through their eyes. It consists of 20 drawings created by children who have been confined to the Woomera Detention Centre.

The 20 digitally enlarged drawings generated unprecedented interest when they were first shown at Adelaide's Migration Museum last year. It remains one of the most popular exhibitions the venue has mounted in recent times.

Many of the images depict violence witnessed by children during the 2001 break-out at Woomera, when water cannon and batons were used against detainees.

According to a MacKillop Place media release, the drawings "vividly express everyday life, conditions and experiences".

"Many of the drawings depict the violence witnessed by the children during the breakout in 2001 when water-cannons and batons were used by Australian Correctional Management.

"One child is reported as saying 'When I was in Afghanistan, I never seen a jail, a hand lock, a tear gas, nothing and not in India or Pakistan but now I saw everything.'"

The images were produced by the children as one of their ways of showing Australians what they felt and experienced.

The release says the Sisters of St Joseph "have always been committed to children in need".

"Many of the Sisters have worked long and hard to protest against the Australian policy of detention which results in documented harm to children."

Mary MacKillop Place

Sisters of St Joseph | Mary MacKillop Place

20 Jul 2004