As Australia’s deadline to close its offshore camp on Manus passes, Australian refugee policy expert Claire Higgins explains the social and political factors that molded the country’s changing policies toward asylum seekers arriving by boat.
The ‘White Australia’ policy was not long gone when the first refugees from communist Vietnam sailed into Darwin Harbour, seeking asylum and inadvertently challenging the Fraser government to reject now-familiar policies such as turnbacks and detention, and to define a new national identity.
What followed is an astonishing story of necessity and invention, vividly told in Asylum By Boat: Origins of Australia’s refugee policy (NewSouth).
Storytelling makes sense of chaos through narrative structure, and this ABC podcast Shooting the Past puts together the story behind a photo of Prahran expert rugmaker Najaf Mazeri, who fled Afghanistan for Australia in 2001.
Proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship laws would bear harshly on refugees and dramatically increase the powers of the Minister, according to a Senate submission by members of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law and the