Background of Refugee Rights Political Movement
Since 2000, both the refugee rights political movement in Australia as a whole as well as the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women (ANCORW) have primarily been focused on key issues such as the differential treatment of asylum seekers based on how they arrived in Australia or apply for protection, the Pacific and Malaysian solution, the detention of asylum seekers and combating the view that boat arrivals are not ‘genuine refugees’. Although there are many other concerns, the issues listed above are the major ones.
In the first instance, refugee right groups are trying to minimize the difference in the way onshore and offshore asylum seekers are processed. Currently, under the Migration Act 1958, onshore asylum seekers can apply for refugee status while offshore asylum seekers are deprived of this opportunity. Although implemented in 1958, this differential treatment still remains controversial in the 21st century. On the other hand, the Pacific solution which has been criticized for being both costly and inhumane by refugee right groups, was first implemented in 2001 with bipartisan support, abandoned by the Australian Labor Party government in 2007 and reintroduced in 2012 by Julia Gillard. Refugee right groups including ANCORW are trying to bring an end to the Pacific solution which has been deemed Australia’s “Guantanamo”.
The mandatory detention of asylum seekers which was introduced by the Keating government in 1992 is another hotly debated issue that refugee right groups oppose till this day. Australia is one of the few nations in the world which imposes mandatory detention in an act of indifference to the plight of asylum seekers. As of 30 April 2012, there were 5967 people in immigration detention, including 5166 people on mainland Australia and 801 people on Christmas Island of which 66% have been in detention for over three months. Refugee right groups and ANCORW argue...
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