Post 2 – Scholarly Secondary Sources

Professor Gillian Triggs is the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and prior to this she had several other roles including Dean of the Faculty of Law, Challis Professor of International Law at University of Sydney (2007-12), Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2005-07), Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and a Governor of the College of Law. In this article she focuses on the concerns about Australia’s mandatory immigration detention system, conveying the Human Rights Commission into this matter and the stance taken.

Triggs’ article recounts personal experiences of visiting these detention centres, giving vivid detail on the prison like state of many facilities. She seeks to remind us of who asylum seekers are, and how these facilities can have a great impact on the physically and mentally. However her ongoing association with the Human Rights Commission, how they’ve have ‘raised concerns over many years’ and ‘work to promote and protect the human rights of people held in detention through a number of functions’ conveyed this tone that they are doing all that they can. Whilst I agree that the Human Rights Commission serves an important role, I feel that they hold a great deal of power in regards tot his issue cane canon simply keep accusing the government. In a sense i simplify the issue to be along that lines of ‘we want to do something and believe that we should but can’t’. 

Linda Leung, Cath Finney Lamb and Liz Emrys article also explores the living conditions within mandatory detention centres but hones in on the aspect of technology. Unlike many scholarly articles around this issue, this article is very specific in its focus and thus unveils detailed insights into the role of technology in marginalised communities.

They highlight the role of technology across the three settings of displacement, detention and settlement as a means of keeping in contact with family and loved ones. Conversely through personal refugee stories they show how the lack of access to technology can act as a deterrent to maintaining well being, and often causes emotional distress through uncertainty and isolation. This article stands as a factual piece exploring the laws, policies and use of technology. However through the personal tone, the authors are able to raise this need to challenge the existing system and provide access to technology for communication. Critically looking at the existing detention centre, they identify the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers, much like Triggs’ articles. However their exploration of the role of communication in the journey of a refugee is articulate well, presenting all sides to develop a cohesive argument.


Triggs, G. 2013, Why we need an end to mandatory detention, Refugee and Asylum Seekers: Finding a better way, pp.38-41.

Leung, L. Lamb, C. &  Emrys, L. 2009,The use of technology by Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Technology’s Refugee, pp.1-43.


Post 1 – Asylum seekers and Refugees


How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees

‘How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees’ is a rebuke by Eva Orner and Steven Glass for the The Sydney Morning Herald. Whilst The Sydney Morning Herald has its roots as a conservative newspaper seeking to not endorse any political alignment, the authors of this piece question and probe the government’s stance on its refugee and asylum seeker policies.

Not being regular contributors or even writers, it’s interesting to highlight both author’s professions. Orner is an Academy and Emmy Award winning Australian filmmaker, who most recently produced the ‘Chasing Asylum’ documentary, known for revealing the behind the scenes of Australias’ asylum seekers and refugees processing. Glass on the other hand is a partner at the law firm Gilbert + Tobin as well as a board member of the Asylum Seekers Centre Sydney, where he seeks to educate and support refugees by making them aware and helping them navigate through Australian law. Thus both authors’ initatives in their careers are visibly concurrent with the strong stance they’ve taken. In the article, Orner and Glass ongoingly question the governemnt, at times being very direct as seen in ‘Why did you, Mr Dutton, falsely accuse refugees (who must be plane arrivals, since you’ve told us boats have stopped) of threatening the jobs and security of Australians?’

Whilst presenting statistical insights into Australia’s policies in comparison to the global context, I consider this article to be quite opinion based. It has been influenced by the authors outrage towards these ‘cruel policies’ and ‘false’ accusations of refugees.


Politics of Asylum Seekers has poisoned the policy

Similar to Orner and Glass, author Peter Brent criticises the way Australian politicians look at the issue of asylum seekers and refugees. However Brent sits on the fence, neither supporting an all out refugee intake nor the current boat policies at play. Brent is a regular contributing writer for ABC was well as an adjunct fellow at Swinburne University. Being a political commentator the topic of discussion is understandable, but rather than criticising and forming an opinion, he seeks to analyse the issue. Thus this article looks at a brief history of politicians’ changing stances towards asylum seekers and refugees and the agenda behind it.

Throughout the article there is a strong undertone that the approach towards this complex problem is more of a political game. Hence whilst he never blatantly questions or says what the government needs to do, he raises the wrongs on both sides.


Revealed: Immigration officers allowed to hack phones

Mark Townsend is a Home Affairs Editor of the Observer hence he covers a wide range of issues pertaining to the international context. In this article he writes about the revelation of immigration officials treatment of detainees. Referencing many sources, from different perspectives, both those who implement legislation and those who are against it, this article is more factual and informative. In contrast to the previous articles, this one looks at the asylum seekers and refugees in the context of detention centres particularly in Britain, rather thank Australia’s Political policies. Furthermore it provides insight on their treatment and rights and raises topical points. Since it is more factual, its not a matter of whether I agree or don’t but rather I find that the issues raised are important, and one than needs to be heard and addressed. 


Friday Essay: worth a thousand words -how photos shape attitudes towards refugees

Jane Lydon is a Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at the University of Western Australia. Having written books on photography and Australian History her article explores the photographical documentation and representation of refugees. Furthermore the ‘The Conversation’ provides a platform for academics to write and provide insight on their area of expertise. Hence this article is factual as it delves into Australia’s history of refugee and how media has either represented the issues or been oppressed. It goes on further to look into particular events on an international scale. Lydon raises ideas on how photography can give voice to the oppressed, can convey political agendas, and start controversial discussions. This article definitely challenges the value and understanding we have of photographs. In saying that I found that photography through media representation can be on either ends of the spectrum in conveying truth, but regardless the motivation behind it tells a very important story that needs to be highlighted.


Comment: The Australian Solution

Waleed Aly, a regular host on the current affair program ‘The Project’ often voices strong thoughts on the global and Australian context, particularly focusing the government. Being a media presenter, lawyer, academic and writer, he comments on the issue of asylums seekers and refugees quite often and is well versed on the topic. However it is undeniable that there is bias in his writing as seen in this Article for The Monthly, a seemingly ‘left wing’ magazine.

In this article he explores the previous solutions posed by the Australian government, only to criticise its’ most recent attempt as well. Through clever rhetoric and direct statements he conveys his opposition of present policies. Furthermore, delving into each parties stance, he dissects the qualities that differentiate these parties to instead highlight the one similarity they hold, their selfishness. Hence by referencing the tone of politicians themselves, Waleed uses satire to suggest the comedic and questionable nature of the government. I find his written style entertaining and informative, however the extreme use of rhetoric highlight the very obvious personal bias, making this an opinion piece.

Further Investigation

Exploring the above articles revealed a number of perspectives, controversies and insights surrounding the refugee and asylum seeker context. Whilst there were many varied questions raised, I believe that it is valuable to delve into the following three areas:

  1. The political motives behind Australia’s stance on the refugee and asylum seekers situation.
  2. The representation of asylum seekers and refugees in media.
  3.  The rights and context of asylum seekers and refugees in detention centres, understanding their rights, the policies to play, what’s being portrayed and what is hidden.
It’s notable that there are overlapping and interconnected areas, but that itself highlights the complexity of this problem. Overtime have developed an opinion in regards to this situation, but merely reading several articles revealed the lack of depth n my understanding. Therefore I find that investigating these three areas will provide a holistic understanding, but even more so challenge me to explore difficult areas. Consequently, I hope to become more well informed in this topic, one that I feel is incredibly relevant at the present moment.


Glass, S. & Orner, E. 2016,  How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.

Brent, P. 2016, Politics of Asylum Seekers has poisoned the policy, ABC News, viewed 5 August 2016, <>.

Townsend, M. 2016, Revealed: Immigration officers allowed to hack phones, The Guardian, viewed 4 August 2016, <>.

Lydon, J. 2016, Friday Essay: worth a thousand words -how photos shape attitudes towards refugees, The Conversation, viewed 5 August 2016, <>.

Aly, W. 2010, Comment: The Australian Solution, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.