After years of locking up asylum seekers who arrive by boat, but allowing those who arrive by air to live in the community while their refugee claims are being processed, the Federal Government has decided to start processing both parties in the same way. Welcomed by the UNHCR, this decision could move away from the toxic controversy that surrounds this issue and possibly lead to a more positive and prosperous outlook for asylum seekers themselves, as well as the Australian community at large.
John Menadue, CPD Board Director and former Secretary of the Department of Immigration in the Fraser Government 1980-1983, writes:
“As a community, we are paranoid about asylum seekers who come by boat. What is important is the merit of their claim for protection, not their mode of arrival.
In treating boat people in the same way as air arrivals, we will be following the policies of almost all major developed countries that have found locking people up will not deter them. The decision by an asylum seeker to flee his or her home country is driven by what is happening in their own country – Afghanistan/Iran/Burma/Sri Lanka. In most cases they would not know about detention in Australia. If they did they would invariably make a calculation that detention in Australia would be more acceptable than the terror they’re escaping from.”
This article was first published by The Age here…
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