‘Freedom is beautiful’: 33 refugees released from detention across Australia

Refugee Abbas Maghames and his Iranian family were released into community detention on Sunday. Source: Supplied

Refugees, who’ve been detained by the Australian government, are in ‘shock’ after 33 of them have been released across Darwin, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Maghames family have become the last family brought to Australia under Medevac laws to be freed from detention in Darwin.

Abbas Maghames, along with his sister and his parents, was released from a detention facility behind Mercure Darwin Airport Resort.

The family are now in Brisbane, where they have been granted approval by the government to live in community detention.

It comes as approximately 33 refugees across Melbourne, Darwin and Brisbane have been released from detention since Sunday.

“My mind is so busy at the moment after nine years [in detention],” Abbas told The Feed.

“I’m so excited. Freedom is beautiful.”

The Maghames family are now in community detention in Brisbane.
The Maghames family are now in community detention in Brisbane.

Abbas was 25 years old when he was first detained. 

The Maghames family arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and were taken to Christmas Island before being transferred to Nauru in March 2014. 

The Iranian family spent seven years on Nauru before they were flown to Darwin for medical treatment last year. As members of the Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, they were granted refugee status in 2019 by the United Nations.

“In detention, it was so awful, like being in a cage. We cannot breathe,” Abbas said.

“Our mental health was getting worse every single day,” he told The Feed.

Now 34, Abbas is processing his newfound freedom and what his future will look like.

He told The Feed he feels despair for the 90-or-so refugees remaining in Australian detention centres.

“I am so worried for all of them. I would like them to all be freed one day.”

In a statement to The Feed, a spokesperson confirmed the Minister for Home Affairs intervened to make a “residence determination” for a number of refugees.”

“The Minister considered various factors, including ongoing engagement in US resettlement, in making the decision to exercise her public interest powers in these cases,” the Home Affairs spokesperson said.

The spokesperson emphasised that temporary transfer to Australia to receive medical treatment is not a “pathway to settlement.”

“Australia’s border protection policies remain steadfast; persons who travel to Australia illegally by boat will not settle here.

“Transitory persons are encouraged to finalise their medical treatment so they can resettle in the US or other third country, return to Nauru or PNG, or return home voluntarily,” the spokesperson added.

About 20 months ago, Abbas and his family were interviewed for US settlement but he said they have not received any update since.

Still, for Abbas, being “free” feels like a dream.

“It feels wonderful, amazing,” he said.

“I will try to have a good future. I have to forget about the past.”