Australia’s Unfair and Inhumane Refugee Policies
Last week marked the 25-year mark of the Australian government’s decision to detain asylum seekers in offshore centres located on the islands of Nauru and Manus. This was first established by excising islands from Australia’s territory; attempting to pay off people smugglers; and a series of other policy changes known as the “Pacific Solution.”
In the first seven years of the scheme, over 1,600 people were held in detention. They arrived predominantly from Afghan, Iraqi and Sri Lankan backgrounds. While this program was initially wound back by 2008, it was reintroduced in 2010. Offshore detention reached its peak in 2014, with over 2,400 people held in detention centres, including 222 children. At the end of March 2016, almost 1,000 people remained in Manus and up to 1,200 people on Nauru.
These actions contravene international law, with our “paltry commitment to the Refugee Convention” deemed one of the worst in the world. Detention makes little sense, given that 90% of cases are found to be “genuine refugees.” The majority of asylum seekers have been in detention for at least two years.
In 2014, the Government offered migrants up to $10,000 to go back home to face certain persecution; a scheme that was resolutely condemned by human rights experts. The Government simultaneously cut legal aid to refugees, making it even harder for them to receive informed support.
The ensuing health damage suffered by asylum seekers is woefully inhumane. Australia’s humanitarian program has been criminally pared back, along with our collective morality. We must not accept this unfair system in the name of so-called “Australian values.”⠀
Read more on my blog.
Images: Art by Safdar Ahmed and the Refugee Art Project exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW. Photos by Zuleyka Zevallos.
[1: artwork of a young girl crouched over and crying, with the title of this article. 2: various artworks hang on a wall, featuring women in hijab and crying. 3: Drawing of a young man sitting on the ground with his hands bound, he is crying as rain falls around him. 4: drawing of a facility, with the word, “Villawood Depression Centre.”]
Source: The Other Sociologist.