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Nauru's lessons in disco survival

26 September 2012 05:57 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Asylum seekers in Nauru are being given access to creature comforts to make their campsite more bearable: TV, movies, computer games, the internet, overseas phone calls and cricket gear.

The Sri Lankan and Iraqi men, who were joined by Iranians yesterday to bring the number awaiting offshore processing on the small Pacific island to 120, are even being taught the words to classic songs, such as Gloria Gaynor's 1978 hit I Will Survive, during music classes.

In the first insight into life at Topside camp, Salvation Army volunteers told The Daily Telegraph yesterday about the routine, which consists largely of sleeping, eating, socialising, classes and sports - such as cricket and volleyball.

Paul Perrett, a Macquarie University teaching student from Sydney, said asylum seekers got up when they wanted, showered and had a choice of hot or cold breakfast.Classes are offered in English, creative arts, health and hygiene and music.

"They wanted to learn our songs and we wanted to learn their songs so they'll sing to us and we sing back," Mr Perrett said.

Those who shun classes can watch TV or movies, play computer games, retreat to a prayer room or use one of six internet terminals.

Tents have wooden floors and will soon have power. Asylum seekers also have access on a roster system to 10 phones to call home.

Salvation Army officer Tara McGuigan, from Rockhampton, said they would get personal mobile phones to contact friends and relatives.

Dinner is at 5.30pm and, as the day cools, many play cricket or volleyball, sing and dance. "The Sri Lankans particularly love their cricket. Some of them are very good," Ms McGuigan said.One of the asylum seekers was being flown back to Sri Lanka yesterday at his request; others are understood to be rethinking their decision to claim refugee status.

Ms McGuigan said morale was "not bad". "Of course, when a new group comes it takes a while to settle in and settle down and it's a whole change for them," she said.

"But the first few groups that have come in have really accepted it now."

She said several had shared their stories of persecution, from one man who was recruited as a boy into a terrorist group to another who watched his mother shot dead.Meanwhile, another asylum boat, with 12 aboard, was intercepted by HMAS Launceston on Monday night.

The passengers will be taken to Christmas Island but could be sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island for processing. (

  Comments - 6

  • Calistus Jayatilleke Wednesday, 26 September 2012 06:09 AM

    Now most of the bogus asylum seekers might even consider the dangerous boat trip as an adventure to spend a few days in Utopia called Nauru on a holiday playing games, singing and dancing and then come back in style in an airplane with all the comforts. One would have thought that the whole idea of diverting the asylum seekers to Nauru was to discourage them from attempting such boat rides.

    MagodisThuma Wednesday, 26 September 2012 01:19 PM

    I want to go there...!

    Lanka Lion - Sydney Wednesday, 26 September 2012 01:24 PM

    Now there will be even more asylum seekers heading to Australia to have a nice holiday in the beautiful South Pacific Islands of either Nauru or Manus Island.It would be worth taking the risk as everything is provided including TV's,movies cigarettes,sports gear,internet , mobile phones, free phone calls,free meals etc. and at the end of the day live music and dancing all at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. Come one come all join in this great extravaganza it's worth it. If you still choose to go home a free air ticket will also be provided.

    ChamaraJ Wednesday, 26 September 2012 08:29 AM

    Adventure in the High seas, island accommodation, fun and the end of it there would be a complimentary trip to Australia or a free ticket to Colombo !!!! not a bad deal eh......

    Ruhunu Kolla Wednesday, 26 September 2012 08:30 AM

    Hope to jump into the next boat, as it offers far more opportunities than Miracle Of Asia!

    Abdul Wednesday, 26 September 2012 10:16 AM

    freeholiday in a pacific ocean island. i'm taking boat to nauru tomorrow.

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