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17 December 2013

Refugees and asylum seekers: Finding a better way  

A collection of essays which makes a significant new contribution to the policy debate was launched today by Sir William Deane for Australia21


Commissioned by Australia21 with the much appreciated assistance of 89 crowdfunding supporters, the essays explore practical ways of improving Australian refugee and asylum seeker policy.  

The collection brings together an unprecedented range of leaders from the law, military, human rights, religion and politics along with refugees themselves to seek new ways of framing the refugee and asylum seeker discourse in Australia. They cover a wide spectrum of issues about the feasibility of developing a more humane, sustainable and defensible approach to refugees and asylum seekers that could also win broad community and political support. Here is a sample from some contributors:

Admiral (Retd.) Chris Barrie (quoted in the collection)
  • "It has been easy for the community in Australia to presume that Australia, alone, has this policy problem. Certainly the media report our difficulties over the policy issues in this way.  But I hope we can understand that most developed countries in the OECD share the difficulty of deciding what to do. Moreover, future projections of the numbers of asylum seekers indicate this problem is not going to go away." (See page 20.)
Ms Widyan Al Ubudy (quoted in the collection)
  • "Asylum seekers do not opt for the boat option because it is the inexpensive way to travel - not at the going rate of $5,000 to $10,000 per person. The reason why these people risk their life and future is simple, they have been given no other choice.  They could quite possibly afford to come by plane, but that would require formal travel documentation. Formal documentation is something that the country they are escaping persecution from is not willing to grant them..." (See page 9)
Professor Jane McAdam (quoted in the collection)
  • "It would not be difficult to showcase the very positive contributions that refugees have made to Australia... [A 2011 Immigration Department study] revealed that on average they had higher levels of education than other migrants and the Australian-born population; greater entrepreneurial qualities(five of eight billionaires in Australia were of humanitarian-settler background); and often higher levels of participation in both paid and volunteer work." (See page 13.)   

Professor Frank Brennan

  • Professor Brennan suggests a seven step plan for the Abbott Government. (See page 77.) 

The other contributors are John Menadue, Trevor Boucher, Paul Barratt, Tony Kevin, Gillian Triggs, David Maxwell Gray, Erika Feller, Louise Newman, Simon Longstaff, Julian Burnside, Mick Palmer, Anne Kilcullen, Paul Power, Desmond Manderson, Arnold Zable, Kim Rubenstein and Jacqueline Field, David Corlett, John Hewson, Arja Keski-Nummi, Besmellah Rezaee.

The views in the collection do not necessarily represent the views of Australia21. The goal in publishing them is to generate a broader conversation in the community about humane and reasonable possibilities that could encourage decision makers to examine the feasibility of a fresh new bipartisan approach on refugees and asylum seekers.  

Release of this volume is the forerunner to a high level expert roundtable discussion that Australia21 plans to convene in 2014.  

Refugees and asylum seekers: Finding a better way is available for free download here.  If you would like to purchase a hard copy of the publication for $25 including postage, please go to the project's Pozible online shop 

We are interested in your feedback. Please feel free to email us or leave a comment on our website.  

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