Academics call for better refugee policy


Is it possible for Australia to adopt a just and humane approach for refugees? A group of Australian academics think so, and have published a policy paper with some suggestions for how we get there.

Where are now and how do we get out of this?

The policy paper draws attention to harmful effects of our current asylum policies. These include:

  • the terrible effects on their mental health
  • sexual assaults
  • enforced poverty and dependency
  • the high costs of running the offshore processing regime, and
  • the potential legal consequences.

In light of this situation, the paper proposes a series of practical and sound measures that the Australian government should adopt in order to provide a just and humane approach towards asylum seekers. In particular, the paper recommends four things:

  • close detention centres and end mandatory detention
  • start to comprehensively reform to ensure we comply with our international legal obligations
  • promote a decent livelihood and thriving communities for people seeking, or granted, protection, and
  • encourage more empathy towards people seeking protection.

The paper recommends that Australia work to create a new regional approach based on equity, capacity, responsibility and solidarity.

Finally, the paper calls for a National Policy Summit to initiate a national conversation about Australia’s response to people seeking asylum. The aim of the Summit is to produce concrete and practical proposals for change.

This paper demonstrates that there are practical, humane solutions to the situation. It is not true that the only choices are that people either ‘drown at sea’ or we ‘stop the boats’. The options presented in this paper aims to be the starting point for the proposed summit, and for a national discussion.

If you are an academic and wish to support this policy paper, you can sign an open letter which will be sent to the Prime Minister and all members of Parliament.

Read the Policy Paper here