And one last lot of myths to bust! Check them all out at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
MYTH 16: Australia is experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of people seeking asylum by boat.
- 22 Industrialized countries had a bigger % increase in people seeking asylum than Australia during the same period.
- In comparison this is what other countries for example have experienced in 2009 in the same period:
Country // % increase of asylum seekers for 2009 compared to same time in 2007 // % increase of asylum seekers for 2009 compared to same time in 2008
Australia – 28% – 27%
Finland – 344% – 160%
Norway – 234% – 51%
Poland – 152% – 15%
United Kingdom – 39% – 21%
Austria – 32% – 41%
Canada – 65% – 11%
Austria – 32% – 41%
Germany – 46% – 12%
Netherlands – 134% – 23%
Malta – 203% – 9%
MYTH 17: Australia is being swamped by Refugees from Afghanistan.
- Australia had only 0.03% of the worlds Afghan refugees (940 people out of 2.8 million) in 2009
- Even though there are 2.8 million Afghan refugees globally across 69 asylum countries worldwide, 96% of themwere located in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran alone.
MYTH 18: The Gillard Government has ended the Pacific Solution that the Howard Government created.
- Whilst the Rudd Government closed Nauru and Manus Island, over 4,000 islands remain excised from Australia’smigration zone, allowing the Australian Government to avoid its international obligations to asylum seekers who arrive on our shores. The Gillard Government is currently exploring the option of establishing a regional offshore processing solution.
MYTH 19: There is no difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party when it comes to their policies on refugees.
- Whilst both the ALP and Liberal Party have harsh and unjust policies towards asylum seekers, the Liberal Party hasthe harsher and inhumane policy as it has as part of its refugee policy these stand alone policies: (a) Turn back boats (b) Re–introduce Temporary Protection Visas and the 45 day rule (c) Process all families and children on Christmas Island that arrive by boat without exception
MYTH 20: We have a more generous refugee and humanitarian program under the Gillard Government than we did under the Howard Government.
- We take less people as refugees under the Gillard Government than we did under Howard as a percentage of ouroverall immigration intake. Under the Howard Government refugees made up 7.6% (13,104 visas) of the total immigration program. Under the Gillard Government refugees are 6.6% (13,750 visas) of the total migration program. To put Labor’s 6.6%, or 13,750 people, quota in context, it is half the proportionate rate the Howard Government set in 2000-01 – 14.6% (13,733).
- The first two years of the Rudd/Gillard Government has resulted in the refugee share being reduced to 7.3% (13,500) in 2008-09, before rising slightly to 7.5% (13,750) and now dipping again to 6.6% of the overall program.
- The Gillard Government’s humanitarian quota is less than half the size in real terms of the benchmark Paul Keatingset in his last year in office – 6.6% in 2010-11, compared with 15.3% in 1995-96.
MYTH 21: Asylum seekers are illegal immigrants
- There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. Australia is a signatory to the Refugee Convention of 1951 which means that a person is able to seek asylum in Australia by boat or plane, with documents or undocumented. They are breaking no laws under the Refugee Convention of 1951.
MYTH 22: Asylum seekers don’t need to come all the way to Australia, they could stop in another country along the way.
- There is no queue or processing system for asylum seekers to come from Afghanistan or Iraq.
- There is no requirement under the Refugee Convention for a person to seek refuge in their first country of arrival.
- For asylum seekers who make it to Indonesia from the Middle East, the available countries who are signatories to the Refugee Convention and accept refugees is very limited. Indonesia is not a signatory. From Indonesia to Australia only Cambodia is a signatory.
MYTH 23: We are seeing more people coming by boat because of a softening of our border protection policy.
- Annual figures released 16th of June 2010 by the UN refugee agency show that some 43.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2009, the highest number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution since the mid-1990s.(16)
Myth 24: Asylum Seekers who come by boat from Indonesia just don’t want to wait their turn in the queue
- The Australian Government refuses to accept any asylum seekers assessed as refugees by the UNHCR who have arrived after 2007 in Indonesia.
- In the last 3 years the Australian Government has settled each year an average of just 52 refugees from Indonesia in Australia.
- The current waiting period in the ‘queue’ for a refugee in Indonesia (who is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention) seeking settlement in Australia is on average 37 years.
MYTH 25: People seek asylum in Australia to get access to government support and live the good life here. Asylum seekers who can afford to come by boat are economic migrants.
- Asylum Seekers do not leave their country due to choice. People seek asylum because they fear for their safety and life in their home country. They leave by whatever means they can.
- No asylum seekers have access to: Centrelink, Health Care Card, Public Housing, Settlement Services, English Programs, Job Services Australia, Traineeships or Tertiary Education. Many also have no right to even work or a Medicare Card.
16 UNHCR (2009) Global Trends, http://www.unhcr.org/4c11f0be9.html