A couple of nights ago, I attended an event that looked at the issue of asylum seekers, and where to now. The event was very well attended – they were expecting about 30 people, but instead had about 100.
One of the big things I took out of this was an understanding of the two main issues in asylum seeker policy – that of fairness, and of standards. Continue reading What now for asylum seekers?
There’s lots of talk at the moment about Asylum Seekers, as both political parties released policies to “stop the boats” of asylum seekers, and how they are treated. Both of the policies include mandatory detention, locking up asylum seekers while their claims are processed.
While I can understand why this is necessary to ensure security, the method in which this is done has drawn criticism. Currently, refugees are sent to Christmas Island, to be held in a detention centre which is, in all senses of the word, a high security prison. The asylum seekers are kept here until their claim is approved, in which they get moved to the main land, or declined, in which case they are deported back to their homeland.
Where this plan is currently failing is that asylum seekers can be held in detention for months on end, in a high security prison, on an island where there is no fresh food available, with no guarantee upon when they will know whether they will get out of the centre – either into Australia or back home. Without that guarantee, they run into mental breakdowns, mental scarring that will affect the rest of their lives.
The craziest aspect of all of this is that the politicians believe this policy change will deter asylum seekers from coming to Australia via boat. However, our policy changes make absolutely no difference on what asylum seekers think, mainly because the news doesn’t get through to them, and conditions in their home country are so bad that anything – even detention in a high security prison are much more preferable.
The solution to this situation is to remove the politics from this issue, for the two major parties to sit down and develop a humane policy for asylum seekers that will treat them like human beings, while still being secure about who enters Australia.
The way I think this will look like is establishing a deadline by which a decision must be made on the status of an asylum seeker. While I would prefer that to be along the lines of 3 months, more likely it will be 6 months. If there are too many claims to be processed, then more workers should be employed to process these claims in the time required. Setting this time period will give asylum seekers the knowledge of when their claim will be processed by, and also ensure that detention centers do not get overcrowded.
Remove the politics. Insert humanity.
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Acknowledgement of Country
I acknowledge that I live and work on land for which the Whadjuk Noongar people are the traditional owners and custodians. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. I also respect any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from other lands.