Spending a night in Yasmar Youth Detention Centre gives a glimpse of life on the inside.
“Oi, blondie!” The greeting booms into my ears from a stern female guard who is so close to the side of my head I can smell stale coffee and chewing gum on her breath.
“Do you have a hair tie? Why the f*ck would you come to prison without a hair tie?”
I’m facing a brick wall with my nose almost touching the mortar, trying not to move. Other jumpsuit-clad “prisoners” stand motionless in a row next to me, facing the wall. “No hair tie means push-ups,” snarls the officer.
“Get down on the ground, prisoner. Lie flat. Put your face on the dirt.” I obey. The concrete is cold on my knee caps and hands.
“Now give me 10 push-ups.”
This is the beginning of my first night in Yasmar Youth Detention training facility in the inner-west of Sydney. I’ve agreed to spend a night in this former juvenile detention centre for what is known as the “Whitelion Bail Out” – a charity event held each year in capital cities around Australia to raise money for the organisation Whitelion. The idea is that people spend a night in a real prison to get an insight into what prisoners go through.