In Summary

Australia needs to reframe its policy on asylum seekers as current responses to the problem are destroying lives, financially unsustainable and risking Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.

In a paper published today in Inside Story, academics from the Swinburne Institute for Social Research in collaboration with La Trobe and Monash researchers urge a rethink of what they say is Australia’s unjust response to asylum seekers. They argue policy based on public opinion alone is a mistake.

The paper says it is critical Australia’s response to forced migration is in keeping with its international legal obligations but that current policy does not accord with Australia’s human rights obligations and needs to be rethought on a case-by-case basis examining “how long a given individual could be left in a state of uncertainty before it became cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The paper argues for regional and global solutions rather than national ones whilst cautioning Australia to “set its own house in order to advocate credibly for effective international and regional responsibility-sharing strategies.”

It says that claims Australia has been generous in its response to refugees and asylum seekers in the past is no longer appropriate and that “past and present must not become elements of a zero sum game whereby generosity in one outweighs cruelty in the other”.

The group of Swinburne researchers include Professor Klaus Neumann as well as Adjunct Research Fellows Peter Mares and Damir Mitric. Associate Professor Savitri Taylor from the School of Law at La Trobe University and Dr Anne McNevin Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University also contributed to the paper.

Read the full paper at Inside Story