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Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Australia Essay

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Updated: Mar 15th, 2019


Refugees are people who run away from their countries to seek peace in foreign states because of natural or manufactured causes. Natural causes include catastrophes such as floods, plaques and earthquakes while manufactured causes are mainly civil wars and political unrests. These factors make individuals to seek secure places in foreign nations.

Australia is one of the worst hit states by the refugee problem mainly because of its strategic position. Most refugees from Middle East and Western Europe find the country to be convenient as far as safety is concerned. Australians on the other side find refugees and asylum seekers to be people who destabilize security and economic growth. This has led to publication of many materials analyzing the situation. Recently, the debate has taken a centre stage in both government and media.

Sharon Pickering, Common Sense and Original Deviancy: News Discourse and Asylum Seekers in Australia

The writer examines the issues facing refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Refugees have been referred to as deviants in most instances, especially by the media and politicians. Labeling of refugees as deviants, have led to creation of mandatory detention centers for the new arrivals of unauthorized persons.

The courts have offered some challenges to the policy and practices of immigration laws. The laws serve to further limit resort to administrative or judicial review for adverse determination decisions (Pickering 170-171). Australia’s cultural ties with Europe and North America cause the situation.

They find Arabic culture to be incompatible with theirs hence making them uncomfortable with refugees. From 1997 to 1999, the administrators had busy time monitoring asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. Immigration and asylum is a federal concern, the political system in place led by Howard’s Liberal Coalition government ruled federally. The agreement was reached where the history of bipartisan (consensus) dominated the government institutions. (Pickering 171)

The immigrants are viewed as a threat to national security; the claims have contributed to validation and invocation of repressive state responses. The refugees caught arriving in the state on boats is treated as intruders and they are subjected to harsh punishment by law.

Some segments of society suggest that Australian government should set aside a few thousand places in annual refugee intake to be sold to the highest bidders. They further claim that refugees pay crime syndicates to bring them to Australia illegally and to instruct them in the most effective ways of taking advantage of comparatively liberal immigration and welfare programs (Pickering 179).

The statuses of genuine refugees are determined by social harmony, national interests and integration rather than the problem causing the refugees to fly from their original places. People endowed with resources to invest and presumed to be law abiders are treated differently. They might have run away from their states because of natural factors and for that case they should be refugees but their statuses are elevated because of their wealth. (Pickering 179-180)

Goode Eric and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance

The writer starts his argument by stating that societies are sometimes faced with unnecessary panic. Members of society believe that behaviors of specific members are problematic. The evil doers wound the substance and fabric of the social body. The members of society turn up in large numbers to condemn the evil actions, this leads to a crisis in the society since evil behaviors are common to all members of society (Knudsen 89).

The conflicts are a threat to the well being, basic values and interests of the society. Deviance is associated to foreigners; the feeling of substantial section of society is that refugees pose a threat to the society and to the moral order. Consequently, something must be done to check this (Goode and Nachman 31).

The writer cautions that we should be careful and try to avoid hoc explanations of assuming before head that collective and social stress must automatically be present for moral panics to break out (Goode and Nachman 32). All societies suffer from stress and it will be negative for government institutions to blame one race or ethnic group for prevalent social problems such as crime. Even without foreigners, these problems would be witnessed.

Political Institutions

The Judiciary

The role of judiciary is to arbitrate on cases that face society from to time. It should not apply double standards in interpreting the constitution. All issues should be treated equally since crime is a personal problem. Criminals should not be associated to their ethnic groups or races, everyone should be judged independently. Both refugees and hosts break the law only that hosts are taken to approved schools for behavior correction while foreigners are taken to prisons.

The judiciary needs to advice the government on the best ways possible about class divisions. The Australian society is differentiated in terms of race and ethnicity. Some races are superior to others, which have complicated security in the country. The judiciary should come to the reality of believing that a suspect is innocent unless proven guilty. The police therefore should not harass foreigners instead but they should provide security to them.

The executive

The cabinet should venture deep into the problem of refugees in the country and come up with sound policies that will cool down the high tempers.

The Australians view refugees as having a bad motive of snatching away their opportunities while refugees offer cheap labor because of lacking alternative means of survival. The cabinet should come up with policies that facilitate peaceful coexistence. The Australians should feel secure in their territory while foreigners should feel that they sought proper refuge that guarantees peace and freedom.

The policies made should seek a win-win situation for both refugees and hosts (Herman 6). To achieve all these, the government should shun away from decisive politics and rise to the occasion to be counted as custodian of public good. Policies made should not be one sided that is, it should not favor either hosts or refugees, those favoring hosts might promote national interests but the state would not achieve international interests.


While the first writer examines the consequences that refugee ship causes to individuals, the second criticizes the behavior of hosts who view refugees as being responsible for prevalent socio-economic problems in the society. From the two articles, it is clear that the problem of refugee is not new in Australia.

It has been going on for quite some time and it is the high time that the government should seize the opportunity to settle the problem. The existing international law is conducive to the government. The government should utilize it to solve issues related to foreign relations (McLaughlin 43).

Works Cited

Goode, Eric and Nanchman, Ben-Yehuda. Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance, Oxford: Blackwell, 1994: 31-65.

Herman, Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent: The political Economy of Mass Media, New York: Vintage, 1988.

Knudsen, Daniel. Mistrusting refugees. Berkley: University of California Press, 1995.

McLaughlin, George. Refugees and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Harklow: Longman, 1998.

Pickering, Sharon. Common Sense and Original Deviancy: News Discourse and Asylum Seekers in Australia, Journal of Refugees Study, 14.2 2001: 169-186.

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