Nathan’s Story

I came from Sri Lanka to Australia by boat in 2012. I didn’t want to leave my country but the Sri Lankan Authorities took me from my home and tortured me. When I was returned to my home a few days later me family told me I needed to leave the country and go somewhere safe. My family paid $10,000 AUD for a boat to take me to Australia. It was a small boat and there were so many people that we didn’t have enough room to all sit down. For 11 days we had to survive on one meal and 250ml water a day. Then on the 11th day the engine failed and the water tank had a leak. No one knew how to repair the engine and we did not have any way to contact anyone. For 28 days we were on the boat in the middle of the ocean without enough food or water. It rained a lot and we were wet all the time but we tried to catch the rain so we at least had some water to drink. On the 39th day of our journey a Sri Lankan fishing boat came and they agreed to take us to Australia if we paid them $5,000 AUD each when we could. We agreed – it was the only way we would be able to live. After 7 days on that boat we arrived at Christmas Island and were taken to hospital because we hadn’t eaten for so long. We were lucky that no one died. When we were going to the hospital some immigration officers said that they would be sending us straight back to Sri Lanka. I managed to contact the Australian Tamil Association and they got a lawyer to file a court case to stop them sending us back. We were held in detention for 6 months. Luckily our lawyer won the case and we were let out of detention, but we were not given any work rights. One day a fight broke out at my friends house. I called the police for help and they charged me, cancelled my visa and put me back in detention. When they found out I hadn’t been involved in the fight they dropped the charges, but they didn’t reinstate my visa. I have been in detention for the last 19 months and I don’t know if I will ever get out.


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