'Worse than prison' - Kiwi visiting detainees on Australia's Christmas Island to tell her story

Source: 1News

A New Zealand woman who regularly visits New Zealanders detained at Australia's Christmas Island camp says conditions there are "worse than prison".

Filipa Payne will tell her full story on TVNZ1's Sunday programme on February 25, but this morning told TVNZ1's Breakfast programme that inmates on Christmas Island are held often without communication or access to their lawyers.

Hundreds of New Zealand citizens were flown thousands of kilometres from their homes in Australia and locked up in the island prison as Australia's deportation regime ramped up.

She said while "the media would like to think that it's rapists or murderers held on Christmas Island", most were not, and are simply trying to get back to their families.

Many were victims of "an immigration system that is judging them on their character," Ms Payne said.

"In many cases it's actually worse than prison," she said.

"Conditions there are isolated ... you've got a jungle all the way around you, you've got no contact with the outside world - guys can't get access to their lawyers.

"I try to reach and connect with these guys ... so when they come home they can start a healing process."

You can watch Filipa's story on Sunday, TVNZ 1 at 7.30pm.