The small pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru host what many call Australia's offshore prisons for refugees.

Labelled "regional processing centres" by the Australian government, bilateral arrangements enable Australia's government to maintain power and control, but assume less responsibility for the refugees forced to live there.

These offshore detention centres are home to around 1,500 asylum seekers who were taken into custody after entering Australian waters without visas.

Australia needs to do a better job of explaining exactly the amount of assistance that we're providing.

Peter Dutton, immigration minister of Australia

Many of them have been stuck there in limbo for more than three years.

Both centres are run under secrecy, off-limits to the media and NGOs like Amnesty International. So what's going on inside?

Are these prisons Australia's Guantanamo Bay?

Or a necessary deterrent, which helps to save the lives of refugees and allows Australia to run a "generous" orderly programme of permanent refugee resettlement?

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton talks to Al Jazeera.

"What people want to do is undermine the process that we've got because they don't believe in a strong border protection policy. Now there are two ways to approach this in the modern age: One - as we're seeing as it operates in Europe and other parts of the world at the moment which is a failed process.

"[The second way:] In Australia, we have been able to secure our borders. We're an island nation, so we have an advantage over landlocked countries. We do - at the same time, as we have a tough policy in keeping our borders secure - stop kids from drowning at sea and getting people out of detention. We are able to bring people in at a record number - I think that needs to be recognised and surely acknowledged," Dutton says.

Dutton says that a resettlement deal between Nauru and New Zealand was "an issue between Nauru and New Zealand". When pressed as to whether he would have any objection to a such a deal, he said:

"No, but let me make this very important qualification because we have had people smugglers that have tried to send boats across the top of Australia to New Zealand before. Let me make this very important point that people - if they've sought to come by boat, it doesn't matter where they're resettled, New Zealand or somewhere else - they will not be coming to Australia at any point."

Last week, we spoke to three Australian former teachers on Nauru who taught refugee children. Their classes included conversational English for life in Australia; a life that will never happen under Australia's current policies towards refugees travelling to the island nation by boat. Watch the interview here.

Responses by two of these teachers to Al Jazeera's interview with Peter Dutton can be read here.

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Source: Al Jazeera