In 2020 more than 82 million people were displaced due to international conflict. Displacement of people across the world has reached record levels. My Refugees Policy aims to ensure that as a participant in international conflicts, Australia takes responsibility for, and play its part in, resettlement of refugees.
What action would I take?
If elected, I will seek to implement the following policies:
- End indefinite detention for refugees and people seeking asylum, immediately
- Work to find solutions for all refugees who have been in limbo for almost a decade under Australia’s offshore detention policy. (More than 500 people will have nowhere to go even if every resettlement place now available in the United States, Canada and New Zealand is accepted.)
- Allow the return of the Murugappan family home to Biloela immediately.
- Return the Refugee and Humanitarian Program back to its 2013 level of 20,000 places a year.
- Propose an independent, expert review of Australia’s treatment, detention, and processing of people seeking asylum, and refugees.
- Hold a summit on migration and detention laws to take measurable action on implementing the review’s recommendations. The review must have teeth for enforceable actions.
The review terms of reference should include:
- A cost benefit analysis of ending offshore detention.
- Regularising visa status for all in residency limbo.
- Considered development of a multilateral strategy with neighbouring governments to ensure that the safety and dignity of refugees living in Southeast Asia are sufficiently protected so that people do not feel compelled to embark on hazardous boat journeys to Australia. (This includes the potential of diverting funds currently paying for offshore detention to multilateral programs.)
- Recognising our special responsibility for Afghan refugees with an intent to accept Afghans over and above existing quotas.
- Recognising the urgent need to provide temporary as well as permanent resettlement options for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, and to support receiving countries in that region.
- Ensuring that government policy fully harnesses community compassion and resources to expand and improve refugee protection in Australia through the scale up of well-considered, protection-oriented community sponsorship programs
- A review of family reunification policy
We need a better solution for asylum seekers and refugees
Refugees are people who have fled their country of origin and are unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinions.
During my career as a journalist, I have spent time with asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced people across several continents. I have sat with families in camps housing hundreds of thousands in Darfur, Sudan, displaced by government backed attacks on civilians. I have walked amid the mud and raw sewage with the Rohingya people of Western Myanmar, imprisoned in putrid makeshift camps by their own government. I have spent many days and weeks with people in the so-called migration ‘queue’ in Malaysia where there is little order to a system in which people are forced to wait for years.
Some never find settlement in a third country.
In 2010 I watched from the shore as Australian navy divers searched for victims after the Christmas Island boat crash. In Mexico, and in the United States I have also witnessed economic migration, and seen the attempts to stop people crossing the border, including Donald Trump’s attempt at a wall to keep them out.
Refugee policy is complex, as are the push and pull factors that motivate people to leave their home, or what is left of their home, to seek safety and sometimes prosperity elsewhere.
However, complexity is not resolved via cruelty, and Australia must find a better solution for asylum seekers and refugees. A humanitarian crisis has been conflated with national security via the politics of fear. We can show compassion and fairness while still paying heed to strong borders.
Community and refugee groups from across Australia have come together with the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) calling on the Australian Government to implement an immediate and urgent reversal of cuts to humanitarian visa places.
The group, which includes the National Refugee Led Advocacy Advisory Group and Action for Afghanistan, Australia Tigray Alliance and Ethiopian Multicultural Action Group, is asking for the quota of humanitarian visas to be restored to the 2013 pre-election level of 20,000 places.