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‘It would be okay if they came through the proper channels’: community perceptions and attitudes toward asylum seekers in Australia
journal contributionposted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by Fiona McKayFiona McKay, Samantha ThomasSamantha Thomas, S Kneebone
Australia's humanitarian programme contributes to UNHCR's global resettlement programme and enhances Australia's international humanitarian reputation. However, as the recent tragedy on Christmas Island has shown, the arrival of asylum seekers by boat continues to stimulate debate, discussion and reaction from the Australian public and the Australian media. In this study, we used a mixed methods community survey to understand community perceptions and attitudes relating to asylum seekers. We found that while personal contact with asylum seekers was important when forming opinions about this group of immigrants, for the majority of respondents, attitudes and opinions towards asylum seekers were more influenced by the interplay between traditional Australian values and norms, the way that these norms appeared to be threatened by asylum seekers, and the way that these threats were reinforced both in media and political rhetoric.