What now for asylum seekers?

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Caz ColemanAsylum seekers arriving by boat make up a tiny percentage of our annual immigration, yet Australia has treated them very harshly. On 12 August 2010 Caz Colman spoke to Social Policy Connections on alternatives to current ways of receiving asylum seekers.

Caz is the Director of the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project, a Melbourne-based agency working with asylum seekers living in the community. Caz has worked with asylum seekers and refugees for ten years and has an academic background in theology. In 2009, Caz was appointed to the Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution (CISSR) advising the Federal Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans, on asylum issues in Australia.

According to Ms Coleman’s research, the current policy of mandatory detention is not only having detrimental effects on the asylum seekers themselves, but also on the Australian taxpayer. “Detention is indefensible when compared to the cost of community care models.”

Ms Coleman outlined alternatives to current public policy which included: the Bali process, relevant regional cooperation agreements, work with the UNHCR 10 point plan, and diplomatic efforts stressing  the need for multinational and bilateral agreements to build trust and cooperation in the region.  None of these policy initiatives was taken up by either major political party in the Australian 2010 federal election.

Click HERE to listen to the address.

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Segments of Caz Colman’s talk can be viewed on SPC’s Youtube channel. Please click HERE to access SPC’s videos.



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