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Policy Option - Australia Refugee Resettlement

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 11 years, 6 months ago

     Note: please note that this profile of a policy option or program model should (a) link back to the issue overview on this topic, (b) be focused either the local, state, national, or global level, and (c) be neutrally presented, based on facts, and include footnotes for each of the items.  See the Research Guide and Information Sources to assist you.


Link here to the Refugee Resettlement overview page 


Summary    one paragraph description 

 Australia has the highest ratio of resettled refugees to host population: 1:2,000[1] However, in the wake of September 11, Australia's refugee policy has increased restrictions on refugees, tightened border controls, and continued the practice of refugee detention that was initiated in 1992.[2] Australia's predominant refugee policy, implemented in 2001 and carried out until 2007 was known as the "Pacific Solution."  [3]

The policy was initiated under Prime Minister Howard by the Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock and lasted until the Australian Labor Party elected Kevin Rudd in 2007.



Goal    short description of the policy or program goal  

The strategy of this policy is to strengthen the Australian sense of national security by restricting integration and visibility of refugees and asylum-seekers, especially those from Muslim countries or countries that are categorized as having terrorist operations. The Pacific Solution was meant to deter asylum seekers from coming to Australia in the first place. 



Implementation    describe how the policy or program is implemented (esp. who, how) 

  • Australia initially places refugees in "mandatory detention camps" on small islands like Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island. Refugees can remain there for up to several years.    
  • Australia has also increased restrictions against asylum seekers picked up on high seas, as in the highly publicized Tampa incident in August 2001, where Australia refused to accept over 400 Afghani asylum-seekers from a sinking Indonesian container ship in Australian waters[4]
  • As of September 2001, it is the official policy of Australia to strengthen border patrol and security as a "deterrent" to people smuggling activities. The Australian Defense Force is used to protect the border.  



  • Since the policy was implemented in 2001, it cost over $1 billion in five years. Figures for processing refugees are estimated at about $500,000 per person. The report by Oxfam and A Just Australia, A Price Too High: Australia's Approach to Asylum Seekers, compares the price to keep one refugee on Christmas Island for one day ($1830) to keeping the same refugee for the same time on the Australian mainland at the Sydney Villawood detention center ($238).
  • The entire cost of the program is much more expensive than a mainland oriented program, which would cost an estimated 3.5 percent of the Pacific Solution program.[5]

Evaluation    summarize any evaluation findings that policy or program effectiveness

  • Amnesty International, the UNHCR, and many other NGO refugee groups have criticized Australia's recent refugee policy as being costly, ineffective, and subjecting refugees to unnecessary mental and physical strains. [6]





Point of View    quotations from those in support or opposition to this policy or program 

  • The Refugee Council of Australia recommends a more flexible variation on the detention policy, with 3 stages of detention from closed detention to open detention to community release within a span of 18 days to 3 months to process the average asylum seeker. This plan is predicted to be more humane, equitable, and cheaper. 
  • The Justice for Asylum Seekers Alliance doesn't believe that the use of detention will be a successful deterrent. 
  • Some critics believe that all refugees should be given immediate and permanent protection visas.




Bibliography    link to any additional readings or websites related to this policy or program 




  1. USCRI.
  2. Porter, Elisabeth. 12.
  3. Sydney Morning Herald
  4. Betts, Alexander et al. 41.
  5. Sydney Morning Herald
  6. Porter, Elisabeth 14

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