In this week’s blog, I wanted to bring up an issue that is not usually publicised in news and is often kept very discreet. Each country worldwide has very specific and sometimes vastly different views on how migrants should be treated and how they can enter. From Trump attempting to keep out immigrants from Mexico by building a 3,145km wall to other countries holding an open-door policy allowing the free movement of people in.
One specific country I would like to focus on is Australia which is regarded by many as a place of ‘paradise’. The news, relating to Australia’s immigration, often concerns the points-based system. This helps to determine who should be granted visas or citizenship, with it being very hard to gain permanent citizenship unless the applicant works in a particular sector including: health, teaching and IT due to the country recognising the need for growth in those areas.
However, what is not documented on the news are the offshore detention centres on the islands of Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea, two pacific islands situated nearly 4,500 miles and 960 miles away from Australia respectively. These islands, part of Australian territory, take in asylum seekers, refugees fleeing their origin country due to a genuine fear for their lives, whilst their information and status is being processed. The refugees are then flown to the centres and told they will be ‘temporarily’ housed there, however, they can often be held there for several years. These centres are very inadequate: little healthcare, cramped and overpopulated whilst being surrounded by wire and officers providing a scenario very much akin to prison. Many of the inhabitants suffer from serious mental health problems and suicide and deaths are rife.
Earlier this year, in May, Scott John Morrison, leader of the Liberal Party, was re-elected to be prime minister in Australia. He had previously held the position of Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and has continuously been a keen supporter of the offshore detention centres. He has made it a priority to repeal the ‘medevac’ bill that allows seriously ill refugees, in offshore detention centres, to be flown to mainland Australia for treatment. This led to immediate despair from the refugees still held confined and has since led to many suicide attempts.
Another key reason for Australia preventing immigrants from entering is the lack of natural resources the country has. There is huge water scarcity and many parts of the country are considered uninhabitable. It is therefore not surprising that the government must place restrictions on an influx of people to reduce the risk of overpopulation and eradicating all illegal migration is one method. The country, overall, just doesn’t hold enough land or have enough supply of resources to stop reaching full capacity.
I completely understand the Australian authority’s method of creating a tough immigration process to put off people from travelling to the country, however, this does not compensate for refugees, people who have only just escaped: war, hardship, persecution, to be immediately placed in prison-like centres. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the offshore detention regime is an ‘affront to the protection of human rights’ and this just emphasises that the Australian authorities need to move beyond the outdated laws displayed in the Migration Act of 1958 which requires all unlawful non-citizens to be detained. I believe that they need to publicise the dangers of travelling by sea and instead present immigrants with safer alternatives. I also believe that the offshore detention centre scheme needs to be completely reconstructed with emphasis placed on creating a safe place for vulnerable people and ensuring that no family is separated, whilst also making sure that human rights are constantly upheld.
Ella, Head of Grosstete
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