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The legacy of Australia's treatment of onshore asylum seekers
journal contributionposted on 2002-05-01, 00:00 authored by Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri
The Australian government's response to the 'unlawful' arrival of asylum seekers has been characterised by a host of draconian measures - most notably mandatory detention and a punitive 'temporary protection visa' with severely limited access to settlement services. This hard stance was seen as important in stemming the tide of 'illegal' asylum seekers - most of whom seek protection in Australia from their war-torn countries in the Middle East. However, the government's own statistics suggest that this strategy is not working, as the number of asylum seekers has not decreased since these tough measures were adopted in October 1999. Moreover, as this study  argues, the restricted access to social services and income support imposed on TPV holders is causing significant economic hardships and unnecessarily traumatic settlement experiences. Many non-government agencies (most notably community organizations and ethnic associations) are left with the daunting challenge of meeting both practical and special needs of traumatized refugees.