In August 2012, Julia Gillard and the Australian Labor Party reintroduced the Pacific Solution; an Australian government policy of transporting asylum seekers who attempt to arrive to Australia by boat to Pacific Island processing centres.
From September 2012 to June 2013, Mark worked for the Salvation Army performing support work and humanitarian aid for asylum seekers in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre (RPC). Mark was hired without qualifications or experience on the basis of a phone conversation. He was made to sign a deed of confidentiality that said he could not talk to anyone about what happened in the course of my work for all time. The media was banned from entering the centre and the only training he received before starting work was how not to talk to a journalist.
During his time in the Nauru RPC, he worked intimately with men referred to by large parts of Australia as ‘queue jumpers’, ‘illegals’, and ‘economic migrants’. He listened to their stories and came to know their characters.
He watched many men’s mental health deteriorate due to the stresses of indefinite detention. I witnessed the cause of and aftermath of self-harm, suicide attempts, and violent altercations.
After resigning from his role in Nauru, he spoke out publicly against Australia’s offshore detention policy. He wrote about his experiences and Hardie Grant supported this vision, publishing The Undesirables: Inside Nauru in March 2014.
The Undesirables: Inside Nauru is an account of his experiences inside the Nauru RPC; a window into the dark and mysterious world of offshore processing, a world purposefully curtained from the public eye.