To date, relatively little attention has been given to the experience of people seeking asylum being 'warehoused' in our region. While the policies of the country in which they are residing also impact on their experiences, it is clear from researchers, non-government organisations (NGOs) that work in the region, and those who are living the experience themselves, that Australian policies are having disturbing impacts beyond our borders. This was the conclusion of a gathering of academics, NGOs and refugee communities who examined the regional impacts of Australia’s policies in September 2015 in an Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia funded workshop. Participants focused on people’s experiences in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka following the commencement of the Coalition Government’s Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB). Since late 2013, the Australian Government has funded joint operations with Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to disrupt people smuggling activities and increase intelligence operations. It has also turned back boats of asylum seekers, mostly to Indonesia. As a result, OSB has severely limited the arrival of people seeking asylum to Australia by sea at a time when people displaced globally and regionally has increased to the greatest number since World War II. It is also at a time when 86 per cent of people recognised as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reside in developing countries. In the wake of the Coalition’s victory in the July 2016 federal election, these findings continue to be pressing and require attention. This summary report draws on the findings outlined in the workshop's full report (also available here).
The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia 2016