The Criminalisation of Asylum Seekers in Australia
Throughout the 1990s and into the post 2000 period, the Australian government implemented a range of legislative measures directed at deterring and preventing asylum seekers from arriving on its shores. These policies were accompanied by political discourses which ‘depicted’ asylum seekers as ‘criminals’ or ‘queue jumpers’ who posed a threat to Australian society and were therefore unworthy of Australia’s compassion and ‘citizenship’ rights. The same period was also marked by a growth of security politics across Australia. Much of the literature concerning Australia’s legislative policies relating to asylum seekers places emphasis on the impact of globalisation and Australia’s attempts to close its borders to unwanted immigration and the impact of September 11 and the security politics pursued by the Australian government. This paper sets out how the language and policies relating to asylum seekers is similar to the portrayal of criminals. Through portraying asylum seekers as ‘criminals’ who pose a ‘threat’ to Australian society, asylum seekers were deemed to occupy the same societal role as criminals. This in turn promoted hostility and racism towards them.
Second International Conference on Racisims in the New World Order, Caloundra, Australia 6-7 December 2007
The Complexities of Racism: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order / Babacan, H, Gopalkrishnan, N (eds): pp.44-49