After looking at secondary resources in my previous blog post, I discovered many perspectives on asylum seekers and refugees. Islamophobia has become a hype and stigmatization is going stronger. I am particularly interested in the history of Australian strict refugee policy and its effort to deter asylum seekers from reaching the shore. This links to how Australia has a strong prejudice toward asylum seekers.
The first journal is written by Greg Martin, examining asylum seekers in Australia and social response through moral panic theory view. Greg Martin, a Senior Lecturer in Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Sydney gave this journal a title Stop the boats! Moral panic in Australia over asylum seekers. His research interests include cultural criminology, criminal law, policing, and social movements. Throughout this journal, Martin discussed relevant international issue and research that frames the analysis of the boat people’s panic invasion in Australia.
Martin also demonstrates a different kind of moral panic, explaining the reason of a hostile response directed to asylum seekers and refugees. While classic moral panic can be driven from various reasons such as fear of invasion and multiculturalism, he also argues that this panic state is also intentionally made by politicians to gain full control of the refugee policy. Not only from internal factors, Britain’s moral panic after 9/11 attack also resonated in Australia. The anger is mistakenly directed towards Muslims, created he fear of terrorism and global Islamophobia.
Equipped with various research and statistic from many sources, he presents a credible resource to examine asylum seeker issues in Australia. He believes that as Australia is given an active coalition of the willing after 9/11, the government has the responsibility to give a fair treatment towards asylum seekers.
On the other hand, many people also involved to stand against this discrimination and the negative stereotype on refugees. On the second journal, Can We Make a Difference? Prejudice Towards Asylum Seekers in Australia and the Effectiveness of Antiprejudice Interventions, Lisa Hartley and Anne Padersen challenge the readers’ perspective to perceive this issue in a positive manner and to be able to take action as an individual. Based in Perth, Harley works for Human Right Education while Padersen is an associate professor of psychology in Curtin University, both fields involve discrimination against refugees, Indigenous Australians and Muslim Australians. They strongly criticize the way the Australian Government has always created a barrier from refugees and the introduction of Operation Sovereign Border has made the loop even bigger.
“Within this small number of resettlement places, Australia offered 9,399 refugees the chance to be resettled in Australia – less than ten percent of the permanent global resettlement places but only ranking third overall in resettling refugees, behind the US and Canada.”
This journal is a result of numerous domestic and international researches, combined with their practical experiences in refugees. Hartley examines the correlation between prejudice towards asylum seekers and the importance of counter prejudice in society. She also presents the myth around asylum seekers and reveals the fact that the Government swept under the rug, whilst creating a negative image for refugees.
“They are people like us.”
By the end of the journal, they introduce an intervention strategy as one of the ways to help individuals and the community to shift their negative belief towards asylum seekers. Giving right information and facts about refugees can influence each individual’s psychology. Their tone is inspiring and uplifting. They believe that we can build and practice positive attitude towards asylum seeker. Hartley and Padersen call for individuals to stand against such prejudice and dehumanisation against refugees especially Muslims, acknowledging our different value and situation, and putting aside selfishness. I agree even though we might seem powerless at this time, a prejudice intervention from individuals and the community can bring a change at a structural level.
Martin, G. 2015, Stop the boats! Moral panic in Australia over asylum seekers, Continuum, vol 29, no 3, pp.304-322,.
Pedersen, A. & Hartley, L. 2015, Can We Make a Difference? Prejudice Towards Asylum Seekers in Australia and the Effectiveness of Antiprejudice Interventions, Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, vol 9, no 01, pp.1-14,.
Upon choosing to investigate the issue of asylum seekers and refugees, I spent some time each day over the course of a week collecting a number of secondary sources, in order to develop my understanding of the issue. After collecting 25 sources in the forms of newspaper articles, online news sources, visual narratives and videos, I then chose 5 to analyse closely, in order to gain an understanding of the perspectives and opinions informing the information presented in each source.
From this, it became clear that the issue of refugees and asylum seekers is incredibly polarizing, bringing with it a diverse and passionate set of opinions, influenced by the personal context and experiences of each author.
Source 1. At work inside our detention centres: A guard’s story Sam Wallman (illustrator) for The Global Mail
This visual narrative has been illustrated based on the first-hand experiences of a former Serco employee, working within an Australian detention centre. Arguably with the intention of speaking out against the injustice of the detention system and the treatment of detainees, the employee shared his experiences with The Global Mail, remaining anonymous due to the story’s breaches of confidentiality agreements made with the Serco corporation.
The first-hand nature of his experience arguably makes him a trustworthy source as to the living conditions of the refugees within the centres and the behaviours of the other employees and officials with whom he interacted. Speaking of his initial desire to help and instigate change and hope from the inside out, the author relates his gradual descent into disillusionment, depression, personal relational strain and even self-harm as he is faced with the true bleakness experienced by the detainees on a daily basis.
Representing a very marginal position, the author speaks with the bias of someone who has been allowed access to the inside of the camps, and has witnessed the negative realities that are hidden from the majority of the public.
The article thus straddles the line between factual and opinion-based, as it is believed to be based on the real-life experiences of the author, yet cannot be verified due to both his anonymity, and the media’s lack of access inside detention centres.
Source 2. The most troubling thing about Pauline Hanson’s view of Muslims? The facts no longer matter Susan Carland for The Guardian
This article is written by Susan Carland, an Australian Muslim academic. With a PhD in Muslim feminism in Australian and North American communities, Carland can be considered a trustworthy and expert source.
Writing for fellow Muslims who feel alienated, threatened, unsafe and unwelcome in the current Australian political climate, Carland aims to highlight the depth of hypocrisy and obstinacy present in the condemnation and persecution of Muslims in Australian government and media.
Using the example of Pauline Hanson’s comments about the unwillingness of the Grand Mufti to condemn terrorism, Carland points to several cases in which the Grand Mufti has in fact done just that. Her article is rigorously well-researched, using evidence to make clear the bigoted obstinacy displayed by many Australians towards the Muslim community, most especially expressed in their blatant disregard for facts.
As a practising Muslim herself, Carland undoubtedly writes with a bias, however this is arguably justifiable. Expressing her frustration, exhaustion, anger and fear regarding the dehumanizing and immoral treatment of the very community to which she belongs, Carland sadly holds a marginal position in the immigration debate. Based on the evidence presented, I agree and empathise with the position she takes in the article.
Source 3. What’s next for asylum seekers under a re-elected Turnbull government? Maria O’Sullivan for The Conversation
A senior lecturer for the Monash University faculty of Laws, Maria O’Sullivan writes this piece for The Conversation with the dual intention of highlighting the moral and legal complexities of managing refugee flows in Australia, and suggesting priorities and courses of action in the future quest for a sophisticated solution.
Belonging to Monash University, O’Sullivan’s opinions can be considered to be both trustworthy and well-founded, due to her specialization in the area of Human Rights Law.
Factual and well-researched, her position is one of concern at the Australian government’s current border policies, and the need for these to change based on the current ‘great international need for resettlement’ (O’Sullivan 2016). Coming from a standpoint of morality and global responsibility, O’Sullivan implores the re-elected Turnbull government to increase the resettlement quota via creative means, in order to make a more substantial contribution to the international crisis.
In a calm and measured fashion, O’Sullivan also highlights the importance of resettling those who are currently detained, and revising policies which have left room for poor standards of detention. I cannot help but agree with her unbiased, well-researched explanations and opinions regarding the future of our immigration policies.
Source 4. The real cost of welcoming refugees to Australia Paige Taylor for The Australian
As a journalist and frequent contributor to The Australian, Paige Taylor can be credited with a small amount of expertise on the subject of refugees and immigration policy, however would be greatly outweighed by the likes of lawyers and researchers, including the author of the previous source.
Factual and seemingly well-researched, Taylor’s article presents, without bias, and even without strong opinion, a sampling of positive and negative economic and social costs of resettling refugees in Australia. Beginning with an exposition of the negative financial and service-related costs incurred during the re-settlement process, she then switches to an illustration of the positive social contributions made by refugees, using the sporting successes of South Sudanese refugee Mangar Makur-Chuot as an example.
Focusing next on the personal costs to the refugees themselves, especially the long-lasting emotional trauma associated with being uprooted and having to build a new life in a new country, Taylor once again changes tack, finishing with a positive depiction of the Australian public’s ever-increasingly altruistic response to the task of refugee resettlement.
Seeming to lack a strong conclusion or definitive stance, I am left unsure about where Taylor stands in the spectrum of opinions towards refugee resettlement, as the breadth and objectivity of her reporting makes the point of her argument unclear.
Source 5. Doctors seek to stop gag laws Nicole Hasham for The Sydney Morning Herald
Contributing regularly as an immigration correspondent, Nicole Hasham’s writings for The Sydney Morning Herald are well-informed and trustworthy. Reporting on the impending High Court challenge involving Doctors for Refugees, Hasham begins presenting the story with factual language, in a seemingly objective manner. Neutral phrases including, ‘She said’, ‘Dr Phatarfod said’, and ‘The government says’ (Hasham 2016), reinforce her initially diplomatic position.
However, as the article draws to a close, one key phrase reveals the personal bias of the author: ‘It (the government) insists’ (Hasham 2016). This choice of words inspires a lack of trust in the government’s case. When presenting the Doctors for Refugees’ argument, Hasham gives voice to Dr Barri Phatarfod, the convenor of the doctors, including multiple quotes to support the group’s argument. Conversely, when presenting the opposing case of the government, Hasham chooses not to include any specific names, quotes or evidence.
To the audience, this gives the impression of a less legitimate, or ill-founded argument, due to the lack of supporting testimony. From this, we can see that despite her mostly diplomatic use of language, Hasham takes the side of the doctors, giving them a stronger voice and larger platform in her piece.
In spite of this bias, I still agree with the perspective of the Doctors for Refugees, most especially on the fundamental right of the doctors to express their concerns. However, I would still like to see some evidence which confirms that federal laws do not in fact allow this freedom, as claimed in the article.
Opportunities for Further Investigation
From these sources, I have identified the existence of a number of polarising positions surrounding the issues of immigration and asylum. Moving forward, I believe it is worth investigating the following three:
Those who support the closure of offshore detention centres and the re-settlement of asylum seekers in Australia.
Those who support an increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake of Syrian refugees.
Those who do not support the intake or re–settlement of asylum seekers (notably Muslims) in Australia.
Each of these three positions are controversial and unique, yet all possess a passionate following. As an Australian, I feel that I have a responsibility to be informed about this issue, and thus feel that the investigation of these three positions will provide me with the insight necessary to form my own opinion.
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