two academic writings. brief analysis. reflection. judith tan.
After reading through online newspaper articles, I moved on to search for academic writings in order to delve a little deeper into the issue of homelessness. I have chosen two articles with the same focus in mind of transitioning to homelessness. This time however, instead of covering the general homeless population, I have narrowed down the demographic focus to look into how youths become homeless.
Media Representations and Public Perceptions of Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
The purpose of the media is to inform and shape public opinions. The Australian media and government has played a pivotal role in the shaping the current political climate in relation to refugee and asylum seekers. This blog post explores some of the different attitudes and perspectives of various media sources.
Article One: Decline in press freedom prevents reporters from joining Chris Kenny on Nauru by Paul Farrell (The Guardian)
The Guardian is a left leaning publication which is openly anti-detention centers. The author, Paul Farrell has written numerous articles on the politics of refugees and asylum seekers and co-founded the Detention Logs website which publishes data, documents and investigations within the conditions of Australia’s immigration detention centres.
In this opinion article, Farrell presents the idea that in a democratic country, the government should be transparent about its policies and political structures, and criticizes the governments policy to prevent media access to the refugee camps. He discusses how the government has made the camps ‘virtual media blackouts’, noting that Chris Kenny, a journalist infamous for his conservative views on immigration, was the only journalist who had been allowed access at the date the article was written. It outlines the implications of restricting media access to detention centres. Not only do they allow governments and organisations to hide the true conditions of these camps, but they further contribute to the dehumanisations of refugees and perpetuate complacency within the Australian public.
Farrell’s position on media blackouts in detention centres is relatively commonly held among progressive media outlets in Australia, which usually oppose the culture of secrecy around detention centres and refugee policy.
Article Two: Inside Nauru’s Detention Centre (A Current Affair, Channel 9)
A Current Affair is a tabloid television program that’s aired on Channel 9, infamous for its voyeuristic tabloid stories. Tabloid media programs are motivated by a desire to entertain viewers, often producing stories that contain limited original journalism, often appealing to the public’s morbid curiosity.
Although this was the first time a camera crew has ever been permitted to enter Nauru, the program doesn’t break any news. At times it attempts to presents refugees as ‘well looked after’, and presents the view of Nauruan government officials that echo this perspective. At other times, however, the program shows the squalid living conditions of asylum seekers who live in tents within the camp, supporting the view that intention of the show as voyeuristic. The program seems to be poorly planned and lacks a coherent structure, which is emphasised by random shots of furniture inside refugees’ houses juxtaposed with women talking about their experiences of sexual abuse.
Although it isn’t overtly biased in its approach – the message of the program is unclear and contradictory – ACA take a soft approach to reporting on the detention centres, and don’t seek to expose any new information. Their position would seem to support the government’s position and perhaps this explains why they were the only media crew permitted access to Nauru.
Article Three: Crisis Point by Waleed Aly (The Project, Network Ten)
The Project is an Australian news-current affairs television panel program which airs on Network Ten. The reporter of this particular segment is Waleed Aly, an Australian media presenter and co-hosts the show. In addition to his role in the program, Aly is a staff member and lecturer at Monash University and works in the Global Terrorism Research Centre. As a host of the program, he frequently presents a segment which covers topics that are considered progressive, however it does not make him an expert on the subject of refugees.
Though the show airs on Network Ten the format of Aly’s reporting – which presents an editorial perspective on topical issues in the news – lends itself to sharing on social media. As a result, much of the engagement with the show occurs online and it therefore attracts a younger audience.
The report, Crises Point aired after two asylum seekers self-immolated on Nauru. It focused particularly on Peter Dutton’s comments that these actions were unrelated to the conditions within the immigration detention centres and were merely an attempt to manipulate the Australian Government policy on allowing asylum seekers to gain entry to Australia.
Aly points out the absurdity of Dutton’s claim, saying:
‘does anyone really think that any country is that great that it’s worth setting yourself on fire for… people only do this when they reach a point of complete desperation’. Stressing that ‘pushing asylum seekers to the point of desperation is part of the game plan… whatever these people are fleeing we must offer them something worse, it’s the very logic of the policy’.
Article Four: Sonia Kruger wrong on Muslims, but has right to express herself’ by Sharri Markson (The Australian)
Sharri Markson is a senior writer at the newspaper ‘The Australian’. Her opinion piece on Sonia Kruger’s recent comments regarding Muslim immigration reflects a current trend in a lot of Australian media which tries to link our refugee policies with acts of terrorism. The Australian is a conservative newspaper and has consistently contributed to the narrative that treats refugees as a security threat. Markson has no history of writing comprehensive articles on refugees and thus this seems like more of an opinion piece rather than one based on factual information.
Markson’s article attempts to legitimise this perspective by referring to recent acts of terrorism committed by Islamic extremists in France, Bali and the US, and link these attacks to immigration, specifically refugees.
The article deflects allegations of racism/islamophobia against Kruger and states that ‘the television presenter should not be howled down for expressing a view that is not entirely without basis’. This is a clever rhetorical device, often used by conservative media, to close down debates regarding Australia’s refugee policies or institutionalised racism, and instead transform the debate into one about free speech. The article makes a number of unsubstantiated claims like, ‘There is a clear link between immigration and terrorism’ and ‘a record number of Jewish citizens are fleeing [France]’, without providing any statistical (or other) evidence for these.
Article Five:Hazara refugees take Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to Federal Court over citizenship application delays (Lateline)
Lateline is one of ABC’s flagship current affairs shows. This short report focuses on the struggles of a Hazara refugee to obtain citizenship after having been granted refugee status, settled in Australia, and passed the Australian citizenship test. The ABC is a government funded media outlet that often runs credible and well-researched news reports and updates on refugees.
The report presents the legal obstacles faced by refugees living outside detention centres. The interviews in the report suggest that these delays have increased substantially since policy changes under the Rudd government in 2013. According to the Department of Immigrations, the delays are supposedly due to lengthy background checks being performed on refugees prior to granting their citizenship, reflecting the treatment of refugees as a security threat.
The piece is a human interest-based story that provides a factual account of refugees’ experiences and legal difficulties in order to the position taken by Lateline that there has unjust treatment of these individuals by the immigration department and the legal system.
Article 1: Farrell, P. 2016. Decline in press freedom prevents reporters from joining Chris Kenny on Nauru. The Guardian, 26th October 2015.
Article 2: A Current Affair, “Inside Nauru’s Detention Centre”, Channel Nine, aired June 20, 2016.
Article 3: The Project, “Crises Point”Written by Waleed Aly, Network Ten, aired May 5, 2016.
Article 4: Markson, S. ‘Sonia Kruger wrong on Muslims, but has right to express herself’. The Australian, 18th July, 2016.
Article 5: Lateline, “Hazara refugees take Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to Federal Court over citizenship application delays” Written by Jason Om, Directed by the Australian Broadcasting Centre, Aired July 6 2016.
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