The Undesirables: Inside Nauru
The Undesirables cover

The Undesirables: Inside Nauru

5.00 out of 5 based on 6 customer ratings
(6 customer reviews)

$30.00 $20.00

From September 2012 to June 2013, I worked for the Salvation Army performing support work and humanitarian aid for asylum seekers in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre (RPC). The Undesirables: Inside Nauru is an account of my experiences inside the centre; a window into the dark and mysterious world of offshore processing, a world purposefully curtained from the public eye.

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6 reviews for The Undesirables: Inside Nauru

  1. 5 out of 5


    amazing book with amazing story,
    everyone must read it, and feel it that what happening with refugees and asylum seekers on nauru,
    and how’s the life of refugees and asylum seekers,
    and help them to get settled in Australia,
    i’ll be thankful to all Australian and specially Mark Isaacs for this great informational book.
    thank you

  2. 5 out of 5


    A must read for anyone who wants to know the truth behind all of the secrets. Mark Isaac’s exceptional writing skills ensure you can’t put this book now. I can’t recommend The Undesiarables strongly enough!!

  3. 5 out of 5


    I think all Australians should read this, or at the very least, study it in schools!.

  4. 5 out of 5


    The real-life stories within the real-life story of Mark Isaacs’ experiences in Nauru, brings home the terrible misery and anguish of asylum seeking. Since I read the book, things have only gotten worse, and now involve women and children, with horrific accounts of abuse now surfacing. The book is candid and well-written, the subject confronting and important, for those willing to open their eyes.

  5. 5 out of 5


    This is what I wrote about The Undesirables for publication in our local paper just after I read it:

    The Undesirables is an account of conditions inside Nauru Detention Centre during the first year of the Gillard government’s “No Advantage” “Pacific Solution”. The title was chosen by the author because he heard the then minister for immigration refer to asylum seekers as “undesirables”.

    Mark Isaacs, a young Communications graduate with no social work experience, was recruited as a care worker by the Salvation Army – the group contracted to provide welfare services to asylum seekers in Nauru. What Mark witnessed there compelled him to write this book so that Australians would better understand the people we are locking up, what they are running from, why they risked so much to come here, and the mental and physical stress we are forcing them to endure under mandatory indefinite detention.

    Nauru is a tiny speck, only 21 square kilometres with a population of less than 10,000, on the equator, in the middle of a vast ocean. The detention centre is built on a disused phosphate mine, the hottest spot on a hot island. “The heat in Nauru is oppressive” opens the first chapter of Mark’s book. Sticky heat pervades every aspect of life in the camp, only relenting in the early hours or when swept aside by torrential rainstorms. The tents are either unbearable heat traps, or else they are flooded.

    The natural elements are matched by the centre’s administration regime – they are both oppressive. Strict rules govern and limit every activity, with copious paperwork and red tape creating confusion, delays and frustration. Mark, as recreation officer, starts a regular swimming excursion which the men revel in – a brief but happy two hours of relief from the stifling camp. But then a risk assessment is done and the swimming is stopped.

    Waiting for the night to cool, the men are sleepless and haunted by the horrors they have fled, and the anguish of family left behind. They each had weighed up their options – all bad – to decide that an over-priced overloaded rickety boat was in fact their best hope. But they did not anticipate this – stuck sweltering in a prison with their hope diminishing, being used as an example to deter others. Frustration boils over into riots, depression finds expression in self-harm.

    As Mark befriends the asylum seekers, he faces a dilemma. Stay on longer in the job to be there with them, or leave and publicly advocate for them by breaching his confidentiality contract – becoming a whistle-blower. He decides to do the latter after sticking with a difficult heart-breaking job for nine months. By the time he is leaving, tents are being replaced by constructed buildings, but air conditioning is still only the privilege of staff.

    I was fortunate to hear Mark speak when he came to Forster to address the group Great Lakes Rural Australians for Refugees. After reading my own copy of The Undesirables, I lodged a request for Greater Taree to purchase one for the Library, and it is now there, available for loan. Highly recommended, as now more than ever it is important to understand and treat compassionately the victims of conflict, especially in areas where Australia is choosing to become engaged.

    Sandra Kwa

    1 Oct. 14

  6. 5 out of 5


    Exposing the humanity of those Australia holds hostage on Nauru is a step toward changing the paradigm. Now, when the situation is much worse on Manus and on Nauru, it’s vital that every Australian should read Marks book. Thank you Mark for giving these men a voice.

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