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Analysis and Comment (96)

Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. AAP/Lukas Coch

High Court asylum case pits the executive against the judiciary

The full bench of the High Court will hear the case of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers currently on an Australian customs vessel over two days, starting on August 5. But when the High Court issued an injunction…
Tragedies such as the boat sinking off Lampedusa, Italy, In October 2013 help put Australia’s asylum ‘problem’ into a global perspective. Tragedies such as the boat sinking off Lampedusa, Italy, In October 2013 help put Australia’s asylum ‘problem’ into a global perspective. EPA/Ettore Ferrari

Australia puzzles a world with far more asylum seekers of its own

From the perspective of the global north, Australia has always been an oddity. Its policies often seem as strange and inexplicable as its fauna. “They are strange those Australians, strangers to the world…
In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s global reputation at stake in High Court asylum case

The Australian government gave an undertaking to the High Court on Wednesday that it would not surrender or deliver the asylum seekers detained on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas to Sri Lankan…
In previous cases, the High Court has held that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have a right to procedural fairness. In previous cases, the High Court has held that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have a right to procedural fairness. AAP/Scott Fisher

Preventing asylum seekers' return to harm through the High Court

Later today, the High Court is due to hear a challenge to the screening and transfer of a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lankan authorities. Under international law, return of persons…
Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. AAP/Scott Fisher

Handing over Tamils to the state they fled breaks international law

Australia appears to have reached a new all-time low in its violation of international obligations and its treatment of vulnerable people seeking Australia’s protection. If widespread media reports are…
Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to the Migration Act are designed to reduce adherence to Australia’s international legal obligations. Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to the Migration Act are designed to reduce adherence to Australia’s international legal obligations. AAP/Alan Porritt

Punishment not protection behind Morrison’s refugee law changes

Earlier this week, immigration minister Scott Morrison introduced the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill in response to a High Court decision that ruled invalid his move to cap the…
Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee boy is a great example. Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee boy is a great example. David Morris

Children’s books on the refugee experience are crucial reading

While facts and figures are useful to understand the scale of the refugee problem, for most people it’s the personal angle that they best relate to. But this personal angle, and the sympathy and understanding…
The Senate inquiry into the violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February has heard that a key contributing factor to the riots was the delay in processing asylum seekers' claims. The Senate inquiry into the violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February has heard that a key contributing factor to the riots was the delay in processing asylum seekers' claims. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Slow refugee processing creates fear and uncertainty on Manus Island

It’s been a busy Refugee Week so far. The High Court dismissed a constitutional challenge to offshore processing of asylum seekers, while the federal Labor caucus rejected an internal motion calling for…
Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. AAP/Tom Miletic

In Australia, animals have better rights than asylum seekers

Several years ago an asylum seeker wrote a letter about his experiences at the now-decommissioned Woomera Detention Centre. This is an extract: I have been in this cage for 13 months … Why should all these…
Whichever way you add up the sums, Australians pay far too high a price for the government’s refugee policy. Whichever way you add up the sums, Australians pay far too high a price for the government’s refugee policy. AAP/DIAC

Penny wise, pound foolish: how to really save money on refugees

At a cost of A$826.1 million in the 2014-15 federal budget, the processing and detention of around 2500 asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island is a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money. The government’s…
Protesters in Brisbane at a rally against the Australian government’s asylum seekers policy on April 12, 2014. Protesters in Brisbane at a rally against the Australian government’s asylum seekers policy on April 12, 2014. AAP/Andrew Stevenson

Why care about the health and well-being of asylum seekers?

A report on the refugee detention centre in Nauru by five independent clinical experts posted online by The Guardian on Friday paints a bleak picture of life on the island, particularly for children. But…
The report into the Manus Island riots in which Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed raises critical questions about the long-term sustainability of offshore processing. The report into the Manus Island riots in which Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed raises critical questions about the long-term sustainability of offshore processing. AAP/Dan Peled

Manus violence report highlights the futility of offshore processing

The report on the issues leading up to and including the riots that took place in the Manus Island detention centre in February partially lifts the veil on the complex inner workings of offshore processing…
Nauru is too small to be able to cope with a significant number of resettled asylum seekers – hence the mooted proposals to resettle genuine refugees in Cambodia. Nauru is too small to be able to cope with a significant number of resettled asylum seekers – hence the mooted proposals to resettle genuine refugees in Cambodia. AAP/Department of Immigration

Price of resettling refugees should not be our silence on Cambodia

In recent weeks, Abbott government ministers have been spruiking a plan for Cambodia to resettle some or all asylum seekers on Nauru who are found to be genuine refugees. While the Australian and Cambodian…
Many Australians feel the government should maintain a tough policy on asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Many Australians feel the government should maintain a tough policy on asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Hadi Zader/Flickr

What underlies public prejudice towards asylum seekers?

According to a poll taken last December, 60% of those surveyed think the Australian government should “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers”. What’s behind this negative sentiment (otherwise…
The transfer of asylum seekers to detention centres in Papua New Guinea is a clear violation of Australia’s international law obligations. The transfer of asylum seekers to detention centres in Papua New Guinea is a clear violation of Australia’s international law obligations. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Asylum seekers: we can’t ignore our international law obligations

This week’s Four Corners investigation on the circumstances surrounding the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February was uncomfortable viewing. The ABC…
Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. AAP/Ava Benny-Morrison

From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded

The Abbott government has celebrated the 100th day without any asylum seeker boats reaching Australian territory. This is the result of policies that favour the protection of borders rather than of people…
Interpol says one billion passengers travel without proper identity checks. Interpol says one billion passengers travel without proper identity checks. EPA/Barbara Walton

Flight MH370 and the desperate demand for false passports

It has emerged that two of the passengers on the missing flight MH370 were travelling on stolen passports. Initially this was thought to suggest that terrorism might be involved in the disappearance, but…
Fasten your seatbelts. Fasten your seatbelts. Eliezer Gabriel

Kabul is no safe haven for deported Afghan refugees

We crossed the courtyard and followed 16-year-old Amin around the back of the house. We removed our shoes, walked down the dark hallway and turned into the small dark room. The two youngest children sat…
Round-the-clock news coverage of every boat arrival helps create the perception Australia is facing a crisis. Round-the-clock news coverage of every boat arrival helps create the perception Australia is facing a crisis. AAP/Jon Faulkner

Seeing refugee flows in a broader context points to a better way

Before 9/11 and the “Tampa” episode in 2001, Australia played a thoroughly constructive and decent role in refugee resettlement following World War Two and the Vietnam War. This happened despite a cultural…
Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? AAP Image/Courtesy; SBS Dateline, Supplied by Hussein Khoder

Migration is a solution to climate change, not a threat to security

How to deal with the impact of climate change is front and centre at international climate talks in Warsaw, with a fund for “losses and damages” caused by climate change to developing nations on the table…
Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? EPA/Ettore Ferrari

The Lampedusa asylum tragedy and the lessons for Australia

The recent event of yet another boat sinking off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy resulted in the death of hundreds of migrants with still more unaccounted for. Despite the tyranny of distance, the incident…
The UN Security Council’s statement on the humanitarian and refugee crisis developing in Syria may be a start, but will it actually help those displaced? The UN Security Council’s statement on the humanitarian and refugee crisis developing in Syria may be a start, but will it actually help those displaced? EPA/Jamal Nasrallah

Can the UN solve Syria’s humanitarian disaster?

After finally passing its first resolution on the Syrian crisis late last week, the United Nations Security Council has now turned its attention to the humanitarian crisis now unfolding within the country…
An unspeakable loss. An unspeakable loss. EPA/Franco Lannino

Italy ignores real cause of Lampedusa refugee tragedy

The latest in a “succession of true slaughters of innocents”. This is how Italian president Giorgio Napolitano described the incident in which hundreds of migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Somalia, died…
Both sides of politics are in a race to the bottom in the mistreatment of asylum seekers. Both sides of politics are in a race to the bottom in the mistreatment of asylum seekers. EPA/STR

Julian Burnside: Alienation to alien nation

I had a conversation with Tim Costello some years ago which significantly changed my way of seeing things. He told me of a time when he was running the Collins St Baptist Church. A guy who had been sleeping…
Taking sides: medical targets in Syria threaten medical neutrality. Taking sides: medical targets in Syria threaten medical neutrality. Dominic Lipinski/PA

Preventing medical help has become a new form of warfare

New York Times columnist Nick Kristof recently nominated Syria as the world capital of human suffering. He has a point. It’s not just the bombs, bullets, and now gas rained down upon the civilian population…
More than half of Syria’s refugees are children. More than half of Syria’s refugees are children. Oxfam International

The world needs to plan for long-term Syria refugee crisis

A new city rises up in the Jordanian desert. Zaatari is now “home” – at last count – to 144,000 Syrians. The numbers are scarcely credible. One million child refugees; two million exiles in total; another…
The intractable asylum seeker issue has dominated Australian politics like no other recently. Where will it play most in the coming election? The intractable asylum seeker issue has dominated Australian politics like no other recently. Where will it play most in the coming election? AAP/Paul Miller

Stop the votes: the seats where the asylum issue resonates most

The vexed issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat on Australian shores has dominated our political psyche for over a decade. Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement shortly after returning to office…
The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. AAP/Steve Lillebuen

Back to the future on temporary protection visas

For me, the TPV is a prison. Our life is without hope, or purpose. The simplest thing that a person wants in his life is hope. Without hope, life is meaningless. - Iraqi temporary protection visa holder…
A man in the second group of asylum seekers transferred to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island calls out to journalists, 2 August 2013. A man in the second group of asylum seekers transferred to Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island calls out to journalists, 2 August 2013.

FactCheck: are Australia’s refugee acceptance rates high compared with other nations?

“We want to end the tick and flick approach of this [Labor] government that has seen nine out of 10 people found to be refugees when that doesn’t match what we are seeing in other places around the world…
The suffering of the Iranian people is a moral and an economic issue that Australia can help to solve. The suffering of the Iranian people is a moral and an economic issue that Australia can help to solve. Image from shutterstock.com

Signs of hope in Iran, but can Australia be part of the solution?

Over recent months, Iran has become the largest source of asylum seekers arriving in Australia, with more than 5,000 having arrived this year, amounting to about one-third of the total. While the debate…
It’s not hard to see that caging people indefinitely behind razor wire does considerable harm. It’s not hard to see that caging people indefinitely behind razor wire does considerable harm. AAP

Before getting practical on asylum policy, let’s change our discourse

It was a foolish moment when prime minister Bob Hawke promised that by 1990 no child in Australia would be living in poverty. After all, what are the solutions to child poverty, to crime, to educational…
Each adult Australian citizen would have the right to sponsor one person selected from the register every five years. Each adult Australian citizen would have the right to sponsor one person selected from the register every five years. DFID UK Department for International Development

Asylum Solutions: we need a sponsorship register for refugees

The people of Armidale, a NSW country town which benefits from the cosmopolitanism associated with the presence of the University of New England, are tolerant and open-hearted. They might well appear as…
Rather than mandatory detention of asylum seekers, Australia could save money by allowing more in and asking them to fill jobs in Australia that need doing. Rather than mandatory detention of asylum seekers, Australia could save money by allowing more in and asking them to fill jobs in Australia that need doing. AAP/DIAC

Asylum Solutions: saving money with a more humane response

The major political parties in Australia are engaged in a competition to outdo each other in their promises to mistreat boat people. The theory is that this will deter others from seeking protection here…
As long as push factors such as ongoing civil war in Syria continue, asylum seeker issues will plague Australian politics. As long as push factors such as ongoing civil war in Syria continue, asylum seeker issues will plague Australian politics. EPA / STR

Asylum Solutions: temporary visas with a difference

Anyone who wants to design a solution to the asylum seeker dilemma needs to start by understanding it’s not the product of a single phenomenon: there are five issues, all connected. To create a workable…
People die trying to come to Australia to join our society. Have we lost sight of what we value most? People die trying to come to Australia to join our society. Have we lost sight of what we value most? AAP/Dan Peled

Barry Jones: asylum is the greatest moral challenge of our time

We are never completely contemporaneous with our present. History advances in disguise; it appears on stage wearing the mask of the preceding scene, and we tend to lose the meaning of the play. Each time…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. AAP/Dan Peled

Tough guys: Operation Sovereign Borders vs the PNG Solution

Just when you thought being “tough on borders” couldn’t get any more serious, along comes the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders. It’s got all the right elements of a plan: it’s an operation (with…
Do people smugglers actually have a business model that can be broken? Do people smugglers actually have a business model that can be broken? EPA/Made Nagi

The myth of the people smugglers' ‘business model’

The people smugglers business model is phrase that has entered the Australian political lexicon if only through sheer repetition. It has barely left the lips of prime minister Kevin Rudd or immigration…
Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? AAP/Scott Fisher

Drowning mercy: why we fear the boats

There’s a Latin word: misericordia. It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair…
Governments face many competing demands when trying to create practical, effective asylum seeker policy. Governments face many competing demands when trying to create practical, effective asylum seeker policy. EPA/Tubagus

Asylum seekers: effective policy is based on evidence, not emotion

Many of us want to believe that there is a just and moral solution to the asylum seekers issue. For two decades arguments based on a variety of interpretations of what justice and morality may involve…
Kevin Rudd’s asylum seeker policy will resettle refugees in PNG. So what will their life actually be like? Kevin Rudd’s asylum seeker policy will resettle refugees in PNG. So what will their life actually be like? AAP/George Curry

What life can a resettled refugee expect in PNG?

Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s plan to resettle asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea is already being compared to John Howard’s hard line on the Tampa, which won Howard the election in 2001. It might be good…
Can Rudd’s asylum seeker policy be considered a ‘success’ if it only speaks to Australian self-interest? Can Rudd’s asylum seeker policy be considered a ‘success’ if it only speaks to Australian self-interest? EPA/Tubagus

Defining ‘success’ in the asylum seeker debate

If prime minister Kevin Rudd’s recent decision to process and then resettle all onshore asylum seekers in PNG is to be considered in any way a “success”, then it raises the question of what constitutes…
Kevin Rudd could look to the processes in Europe for a properly regional solution to asylum seekers. Kevin Rudd could look to the processes in Europe for a properly regional solution to asylum seekers. EPA/Adrian Elang

What would a truly regional asylum arrangement look like?

The recently-signed deal between Australia and Papua New Guinea on refugees is being promoted by the Australian government as a “regional settlement arrangement”. But it is really? And how does it compare…
Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. Kevin Rudd’s agreement with PNG on asylum seekers binds Australia to Peter O'Neill’s government, rather than being a true regional solution. AAP/Dan Peled

Rudd’s PNG deal is a co-dependency, not a ‘regional solution’

The precise details of the refugee resettlement deal struck between Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and his Papua New Guinean counterpart Peter O'Neill are yet to be revealed. But what we do know…
Kevin Rudd has announced sweeping changes to asylum policy, headlined by refugees who arrive by boat will no longer be resettled in Australia. Kevin Rudd has announced sweeping changes to asylum policy, headlined by refugees who arrive by boat will no longer be resettled in Australia. AAP

No more asylum in Australia for those arriving by boat: Rudd

Asylum seekers who arrive in Australian waters by boat will no longer have the chance to be settled in Australia under new policies announced by prime minister Kevin Rudd. Instead, asylum seekers arriving…
Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. EPA/Tubagus

Explainer: Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention

Prime minister Kevin Rudd has indicated that he would like to revisit Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. We are yet to learn what this may mean…
The declining health levels of asylum seekers should spark the Australian government to take action. The declining health levels of asylum seekers should spark the Australian government to take action. EPA/Made Mahardika

Attention Australia: take charge of asylum health

Seventy asylum seekers have been moved from the Manus Island immigration detention facility to Christmas Island following a long overdue decision by the Gillard government. The decision to keep families…
Asylum seeker detainees at an immigration facility in Broadmeadows have staged a hunger strike this week. Asylum seeker detainees at an immigration facility in Broadmeadows have staged a hunger strike this week. AAP Image

Refugees and hunger strikes: the need to appeal ASIO assessments

27 men detained in Broadmeadows’ Melbourne Immigration Transit Centre (MITA) ended their hunger strike on Wednesday evening. This group of 25 Tamils and two Burmese Rohingyas had gone ten days without…
Blanket Burmese School. Blanket Burmese School.

Shopping for change this Christmas

Four-year-old Ar Zin stared at my bag. He knew there was something special inside. The classroom full of 30 Burmese refugee children was so hushed that I could each child’s breath, and Ar Zin’s eyes followed…
With immigration detention recommencing in Nauru, we must monitor the welfare of asylum seekers. With immigration detention recommencing in Nauru, we must monitor the welfare of asylum seekers. AAP image/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

If we care about asylum seekers we must count deaths in detention

The Houston Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers was set the task of reducing deaths of asylum seekers following the mounting loss of life on the seas between Indonesia and Australia. But it remained blind to…
Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. AAP

We need a treaty to help people displaced by climate change

Climate change will lead to significant human displacement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other groups warn that the effects – including rising sea levels, heavier floods, more…
The new government campaign misses the mark. The new government campaign misses the mark. Australian government

No advantage for Gillard in misguided asylum seeker campaign

With 5,459 attempted boat arrivals to Australia in the first half of 2012, an increase of 894 since last year, it is no wonder the prime minister is desperate to demonstrate she is combating people smuggling…
There is a fairer and more humane way of dealing with asylum seekers. There is a fairer and more humane way of dealing with asylum seekers. AAP/Department of Defence

Saving lives at sea: the asylum seeker expert panel reports

After two weeks of assessing the evidence, discussing policy and reporting on fieldwork, The Conversation’s asylum seeker expert panel has made its findings. Using information from our research repository…
35 years of refugee journeys, charted on an interactive map. 35 years of refugee journeys, charted on an interactive map.

Infographic: global refugee populations 1975-2010

Welcome to our new infographic, displaying global populations of refugees from 1975-2010, as part of The Conversation’s expert panel on asylum seekers. Using UNHCR data compiled by the United Nations Refugee…
Our panel will consider options to prevent deaths at sea. Our panel will consider options to prevent deaths at sea. AAP/Basarnas

The Conversation panel on asylum seekers: meet the experts

The Conversation has brought together a team of six academic experts to tackle one of the thorniest issues in Australian politics - asylum seeker deaths at sea. Over the next few weeks, they’ll be examining…
Detention on Nauru is not the answer – and neither is the Malaysian solution. Detention on Nauru is not the answer – and neither is the Malaysian solution. AAP/Rural Australians for Refugees

Fraser: increase refugee intake, process in Indonesia and Malaysia

Recent debates on asylum seeker problems have revolved around two approaches that are not going to work. The opposition’s Nauru solution is not going to get people off boats. It is part of the process…
Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre. Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre. DIAC

Asylum seekers and Australia: the evidence

Welcome to The Conversation’s research repository on asylum seeker issues. When public debate has ground to a halt over something as serious as lives lost at sea, it’s time to look to what the evidence…
Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma in a temporary shelter at Aceh, Indonesia. Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma in a temporary shelter at Aceh, Indonesia. EPA/Hotli Simanjuntak

Want to stop the boats? Make refuge accessible off-shore

Last week Australia’s politicians determined to “do something” to stop people risking their lives at sea on asylum boats headed for Australia. The government wanted a bill from independent MP Rob Oakeshott…
Refugees on boats en route to Australia are seen by many Indonesians as our problem, not theirs. Refugees on boats en route to Australia are seen by many Indonesians as our problem, not theirs. AAP/Karlis Salna

Not our problem: the Indonesian perspective on asylum seekers

If the lead stories in the digital and print media are anything to go by, Indonesians have little interest in the recent asylum seeker boat sinkings and the accompanying loss of life. Over the past couple…
Refugees stuck in Malaysia are not a means to an end - their rights as individuals are inviolable. Refugees stuck in Malaysia are not a means to an end - their rights as individuals are inviolable. AAP/Karlis Salna

The moral philosophy of the Malaysia Solution

There’s a knock on the door. It’s late, and it has been a wild and stormy night. You wonder who could possibly be outside in this weather. Opening the door you find a young man collapsed on your doorstep…
A boat carrying asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island today. A boat carrying asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island today. AAP/Rossbach/Krepp

Don’t blame people smugglers – bad policy leads to deaths at sea

As I write this, mainstream political parties are locked in a futile battle to determine whose deterrence-based policy will prevail. Debates like the one we saw yesterday in the House of Representatives…
While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. AAP/Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Six issues missing from the asylum seeker debate

When asylum seekers die at sea there are too many things we don’t want to talk about. Following the news of another asylum boat capsizing yesterday, at 2pm the federal Parliament began with a sombre and…
There is no queue. There is no queue. EPA/Lynn Bo Bo

Refugee populations across the globe: the facts

Refugees are created by wars and persecution. People flee their homes because their governments will not, or cannot, protect them from harm and allow them to live in peace. Under international law, as…
We all know moving is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t want to go. But it can still be a positive decision. We all know moving is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t want to go. But it can still be a positive decision. United Nations

Environmental migrants: victims, or heroes of adaptation?

Who are the “climate change migrants” we hear about with increasing regularity in the media and in global and regional policy forums? Are they the victims of devastating environmental forces - the result…
Some Australian refugees develop “protracted asylum seeker syndrome”. Some Australian refugees develop “protracted asylum seeker syndrome”. Alex E. Proimos

Long waits for refugee status lead to new mental health syndrome

There’s a common misconception within the Australian community that asylum seekers arrive by boat. In fact, most asylum seekers arrive here by aeroplane with valid travel documents and reside in the community…
Refugees can be detained indefinitely if they do not pass security clearance. Refugees can be detained indefinitely if they do not pass security clearance. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Give refugees the right to appeal security assessments – just like the rest of us

Last night, Lateline reported on a five-year-old refugee who faced the prospect of being separated from his father forever. His father had failed an ASIO security assessment, which under current policies…
Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney in 2008. Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney in 2008. AAP/Dean Lewins

Chinese refugees risking lives for asylum in New Zealand

UPDATE: The Chinese nationals have now elected to stay in Australia, where they will seek asylum. A group of ten Chinese people fleeing persecution in their home country has presented Australian authorities…
The government’s obligations to immigration detainees are very similar to those of prisoners. The government’s obligations to immigration detainees are very similar to those of prisoners. AAP/Dean Lewins

After Serco, what rights do asylum seekers have in detention?

A training manual instructing immigration detention centre guards to use force to incapacitate detainees was leaked this week. It included techniques to kick, punch and target pressure points on detainees…
The AFL is throwing everything is has at Greater Western Sydney. The AFL is throwing everything is has at Greater Western Sydney. AAP/Paul Millar

Bridging codes: football and Islam in western Sydney

The 2012 AFL debut of the GWS Giants is the culmination of efforts by the powerful, cashed up body that administers Aussie Rules to make inroads into the rugby league-obsessed, poor and predominantly refugee…
How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? AAP/Josh Jerga

Five ways to prevent more asylum seeker tragedies

Last weekend, an overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Indonesia with more than 200 asylum seekers on board. In Australia, the political blame game started soon after with both sides trying to…
Increasing our refugee intake will remove the incentive to get on boats. Increasing our refugee intake will remove the incentive to get on boats. AAP/Josh Jerga

If we’re serious about stopping the boats we must take more refugees

Another refugee boat has sunk. Several hundred people have drowned. Why do they keep trying to come? What should our response be? If you are an optimist with no sense of history, you would be forgiven…
Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why Australia should abandon the Refugee Convention

With the collapse of offshore processing, and the likely increase in boat arrivals into a politically charged environment, a cross-road may have been reached regarding asylum policy in Australia. Now would…
Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Dead refugee caught in ‘legal limbo’ between government agencies

The asylum seeker who committed suicide in Villawood detention centre this week should have been interviewed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to establish whether he should have been released into the community…
Tuvaluans' home and their human rights are threatened by climate change. Tuvaluans' home and their human rights are threatened by climate change. AAP

Human rights or climate wrongs: is Tuvalu the canary in the coal mine?

The Pacific Island State of Tuvalu recently reported that it had just days of water supply left for its population of 10,000. The Government has declared a state of emergency and rationed each household…
Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seekers to be processed onshore as PM weighs up a long week in politics

The Malaysia Solution isn’t quite dead, but its vital signs are certainly not good. With a steely look in her eye, and barely concealed anger, Julia Gillard blamed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for “trashing…
Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. AFP/Saeed Khan

A cynical Migration Bill ignores Australia’s international obligations

Later today the Australian Government plans to put the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 to a vote in the House of Representatives. Without it, the government’s…
The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. The Australian Ambassador is doing everything he can for the Australian boy detained in Bali, but Indonesian children aren’t so lucky. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Hypocrisy over Bali teenager as Indonesian children remain in jail

This week the nation has been in an uproar over the arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy in Indonesia, accused of buying drugs. TV news reports discussed the terrible conditions of the prison, where…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. AAP

Malaysian Solution 2.0: Gillard turns heat on Abbott for offshore processing

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced the Government would seek to legislate in order to revive the “Malaysian Solution” ruled illegal by the High Court earlier this month. The plan would see Australia…
We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. AFP/Georges Gobet

How child soldiers are recruited from refugee camps

The commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the terrible conflict in the early 1990s has put forward legislation in Canada to help former child soldiers seek refuge there. During…
Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. AAP/Lukas Coch

Luckless Labor’s Malaysia failure

The American comedian WC Fields once joked that the best advice in business was “never give a sucker an even break”. Now the High Court has rejected the government’s deal with Malaysia to swap asylum seekers…
Protestors outside the High Court during a previous hearing in Malaysian Solution case. Protestors outside the High Court during a previous hearing in Malaysian Solution case. AAP

Malaysia Solution: High Court ruling explained

The Gillard government’s refugee policy is in disarray after the full bench of the High Court today made permanent injunctions preventing the removal of asylum seekers to Malaysia. The action was initially…
Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. AAP/Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Australia’s human rights record has not improved since the Tampa

The dramatic rescue of more than 400 asylum seekers by the Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, ten years ago set in train a series of events that has since caused immense suffering to so many. It is surely now…
Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. AAP/Josh Jerga

There are better alternatives to the ‘Malaysia solution’

The government’s controversial “Malaysia solution”, in which Australia “swaps” refugees with Malaysia is being challenged in the High Court this week. Asylum seekers are being backed by the Australian…
Detention’s extensive harms to children are well documented and extend to all other detainees. Detention’s extensive harms to children are well documented and extend to all other detainees. AAP

Another day, another report: what more do we need to know about the harms of immigration detention?

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee tabled a report on the Migration Amendment (Detention Reform and Procedural Fairness) Bill 2010 in mid-August, hot on the heels of an announcement…
Campaigners in Sydney protesting against the Malaysian Solution. Campaigners in Sydney protesting against the Malaysian Solution. AAP

High Court ruling: the end for the Malaysian Solution?

The High Court’s extension of an injunction preventing the deportation of asylum seekers under the so-called Malaysian Solution threatens to present the Gillard Government with a major political problem…
Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna. Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna.

Malaysian refugee swap spells human rights disaster

On Monday, Australia and Malaysia signed a deal that will mean 800 refugees that have arrived in Australia will be swapped with 4,000 verified refugees from Malaysia. This deal from both Australian and…
Refugees fled the Crusades. This is a detail from St Dominic and the Albigenses by Pedro Berruguete. Refugees fled the Crusades. This is a detail from St Dominic and the Albigenses by Pedro Berruguete. Flickr/derechoaleer

Why lessons from the past can help us understand the refugee debate

Given the often hysterical media coverage of the refugee debate you could be forgiven for thinking that people seeking refuge in other countries is a new phenomenon. Not so. Refugees have been around since…
Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Why being a better neighbour could ease our biggest political problems

We need to learn more about the countries we are exporting livestock to, or swapping refugees with. Two recent publicly-funded television documentaries have revealed just how little most Australians know…
The AFP is using wrist x-rays to determine whether refugee boat crew members should face a 5-year jail term. The AFP is using wrist x-rays to determine whether refugee boat crew members should face a 5-year jail term. AAP

Bone of contention: can wrist X-rays really reveal the age of people smugglers?

The current Australian Federal Police practice of using X-rays of the hand/wrist to assess the age of Indonesian crew members of boats bringing refugees to Australia is based on a method developed in the…
Go Back To Where You Came From participants prepare to go on patrol in Baghdad with the US military. Go Back To Where You Came From participants prepare to go on patrol in Baghdad with the US military. AFP PHOTO/ HO/ 2011 CORDELL JIGSAW/SBS

SBS preaching to the converted on refugees

SBS’ recent three-part series Go Back to Where You Came From is, simply, a manipulative piece of media spin calculated to redress the balance of a media spun too far towards racist insularity. The intentions…
Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. SBS: Go back to where you came from

Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis

Tonight, during World Refugee Week, SBS One premieres Go Back to Where You Came From. Over three nights the series plunges six Australian participants into the intense fear and desperation of the refugee/asylum…
Malaysian refugee activist Irene Fernandez protests outside the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian refugee activist Irene Fernandez protests outside the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. AAP

Explainer: The facts about the Malaysian solution and Australia’s international obligations

The Gillard government’s proposed “Malaysian solution” for dealing with asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat has come under considerable scrutiny. Under the agreement Australia will send 800…
Australia needs professional migrants to fill skills gaps. Australia needs professional migrants to fill skills gaps. AAP/David Crosling

Australia not about to turn its back on immigration

Australia has been a nation of immigrants since 1788. It has always sought additions to its population to increase its prosperity and economic strength. But two recent controversies have distracted us…

Research and News (7)

Research Briefs (5)

Refugees from war at higher risk of PTSD

Research on people from Sri Lanka displaced from their homes by the 1983 - 2009 conflict on the Indian Ocean island shows…