"What if No One Had Spoken out Against this Policy?" The Rise of Asylum Seeker and Refugeee Advocacy in Australia

Diane Gosden


This paper examines the rise of an asylum seeker and refugee advocacy movement in Australia in recent years. It situates this phenomenon within Alberto Melucci's understanding of social movements as variable and diffuse forms of social action involved in challenging the logic of a system. Following this theoretical framework, it explores the empirical features of this particular collective action, as well as the struggle to redefine the nature of the relationship between citizens of a sovereign state and 'the other' in the personage of asylum seekers and refugees.

Full Text:



ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 2005, Four Corners [Online], Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/s344246.htm [Accessed 13th April 2005].

Amnesty International Australia, 1998, Australia, A continuing shame: The mandatory detention of asylum seekers, Amnesty International Australia, Sydney.

Amnesty International Australia, 2005, The impact of indefinite detention: the case to change Australia's mandatory detention regime, AIA publications, Sydney.

Barnes, D. 2003, A Life Devoid of Meaning: Living on a Temporary Protection Visa in Western Sydney, The Centre for Refugee Research UNSW & the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, Sydney.

Benhabib, S. 2004, The Rights Of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511790799

Bhagwati, P. N. 2002, Report of the Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Human Rights and Immigration Detention in Australia, Mission to Australia, 24 May-2 June 2002.

Blainey, G. 1984, All for Australia, Methuen Haynes, Sydney.

Brennan, F. 2003, Tampering With Asylum: A Universal Humanitarian Problem, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.

Brennan, F. 2004, 'Encountering the Other' in A Fair Go in an Age of Terror: Uniya's Jesuit Lenten seminars 2003 & 2004, ed. P. Fawkner, D. Lovell Publishing, Melbourne, 31-36.

Burchell, D. 2003, Western Horizon: Sydney's Heartland and the Future of Australian Politics, Scribe Publications, Melbourne.

Burgmann, V. 1993, Power and Protest: Movements for Change in Australian Society, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Burnside, J. 2004, 'Hope and experience: human rights in Australia, ' Paper presented at the South Australian Law Society Conference, Adelaide, July 2004.

Clausen, L. 2005, 'Stuck in the system, ' Time Australia, 21 February, 7, 34-37.

Coombs, A. 2004, 'Mobilising rural Australia, ' Griffith Review, Autumn: 123-135.

Corlett, D. 2002, The Politics of Exclusion: Australia and Asylum Seekers, Unpublished PhD. thesis, Department of Politics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia.

Crock, M. & Saul, B. 2002, Future Seekers: Refugees And The Law In Australia, The Federation Press, Sydney.

Dechian, S., Millar, H., and Sallis, E. (eds.) 2004, Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, South Australia.

Dechian, S., Devereaux, J., Millar, H. and Sallis, E. (eds.) 2005, No Place Like Home, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, South Australia.

Dodson, M. 2004, 'Indigenous Australians' in The Howard Years, ed. R. Manne, Black Inc. Agenda, Melbourne, 119-143.

Dodson, L. 2005, 'Immigration levels sufficient, poll finds, ' Sydney Morning Herald, 25 March, 7.

Glendenning, P., Leavey, C., Hetherton, M., Britt, M., and Morris, T. 2004, Deported To Danger: A Study of Australia's Treatment of 40 Rejected Asylum Seekers, Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, Sydney.

Goot, M. 2002, 'Turning points: For whom the polls told' in 2001: The Centenary Election, eds. J. Warhurst and M. Simms, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 63-92.

Hage, G. 1998, White Nation, Pluto Press, Sydney.

Hanson, P. 1996, The Truth, One Nation Party, Ipswich, Queensland.

Heller, A. 1982, A Theory of History, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

Higgins, W. 2003, Journey into Darkness, Brandl and Schlesinger, Blackheath, NSW, Australia.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1998, Those Who've Come Across The Seas: Detention Of Unauthorised Arrivals, ' HREOC. Sydney.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, A Last Resort?: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, HREOC, Sydney.

Justice for Asylum Seekers 2002a, Alternative Approaches to Asylum Seekers: Reception and Transitional Processing System, JAS Alliance, Detention Reform Working Group.

Justice for Asylum Seekers 2002b, The Better Way: Refugees, Detention and Australians, JAS, Victoria.

Jupp, J. 2002, From White Australia To Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration, Cambridge University Press, New York. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139195034

Kevin, T. 2004, A Certain Maritime Incident: The Sinking of the SIEV X, Scribe Publications, Melbourne.

Leach, M. and Mansouri, F. 2004, Lives in Limbo, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Lonely Planet (ed.). 2003, From Nothing to Zero: Letters from Refugees in Australia's Detention Centres, Lonely Planet Publications, Melbourne.

Maley, W. 2004, 'Refugees' in The Howard Years, ed. R. Manne, Black Inc. Agenda, Melbourne, 144-166.

Mann, T. 2003, Desert Sorrow: Asylum Seekers at Woomera, Wakefield Press, Henley Beach.

Manne, R. 2004, 'The Howard Years: A Political Interpretation' in The Howard Years, ed. R. Manne, Black Inc. Agenda, Melbourne, 3-53.

Manne, R. and Corlett, D. 2004, 'Sending them home: refugees and the new politics of indifference, ' Quarterly Essay, 13, 1-95.

Mares, P. 2002, Borderline, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Mares, S., Newman, L., Dudley, M. & Gale, F. 2002, 'Seeking refuge, losing hope: parents and children in immigration detention, ' Australasian Psychiatry, 10.2: 91-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1665.2002.00414.x

Marr, D. & Wilkinson, M. 2003, Dark Victory, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Marr, D., Metherell, M. & Todd, M. 2005, 'Odyssey of a lost soul, ' The Sydney Morning Herald, 12-13 February, 27-34.

Mathew, P. 2002, 'Australian refugee protection in the wake of the Tampa, ' The American Journal of International Law, 96.3: 661.

McMaster, D. 2001, Asylum Seekers: Australia's Response to Refugees, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Melucci, A. 1981, 'Ten hypotheses for the analysis of new movements' in Contemporary Italian Sociology, ed. D. Pinto, Cambridge University Press, London and New York, 173-194.

Melucci, A. 1989, Nomads of the Present, Temple University Press, Philadelphia.

Melucci, A. 1996, Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York.

Network of Asylum Seeker Agencies Victoria 2005, Seeking Safety, Not Charity: A report in support of work-rights for asylum seekers living in the community on Bridging Visa E, Report prepared for NASA-Vic., March 2005, Melbourne.

Neumann, K. 2004, Refuge Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad 2002, Adrift in the Pacific:The Implications of Australia's Pacific Refugee Solution, Oxfam CAA, Melbourne.

Pakulski, J. 1991, Social Movements: The Politics of Moral Protest, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.

Phillips, C., and Manning, S. 2004, 'Temporary Protection Visas and child refugees, ' Medical Journal of Australia, 181.3: 171-172.

Pickering, S. 2001, 'Common sense and original deviancy: news discourses and asylum seekers in Australia, ' Journal of Refugee Studies, 14.2: 169-186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrs/14.2.169

Pickering, S., and Lambert, C. 2002, 'Deterrence: Australia's refugee policy, ' Current Issues In Criminal Justice, 14.1: 65-86.

Piper, M. 2002, 'Executive Director's report' in Refugee Council of Australia; 2001-2002 Annual Report, RCOA, Sydney.

Poynting, S., Noble, G., Tabar, P., and Collins, J. 2004, Bin Laden in the Suburbs: Criminalising the Arab Other, Institute of Criminology, Sydney.

Project SafeCom Inc. 2004, 'Annual report, ' Project SafeCom Inc., Narrogin, Western Australia.

Refugee Council of Australia, National Council of Churches in Australia and Amnesty International Australia, 2004, Complementary Protection: The Way Ahead, RCOA, NCCA and AIA.

Reynolds, H. 1999, Why Weren't We Told?: A Personal Search for the Truth about our History, Viking Press, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria.

Reynolds, M. 2004, Australians welcome refugees: the untold story, Report to the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights - April 2004, United Nations Association of Australia Inc., Available at: http://safecom.org.au/welcome-report.htm (Accessed 20 May 2004).

Saulwick, I. & Assocs., and Muller, D. & Assocs. 2004, JOB Futures/Saulwick Employee Sentiment Survey, JOB Futures, Sydney.

Scott, R. and Keneally, T. (eds.) 2004, 'Another country, ' Southerly, 64.1: 5-96.

Silove, D., Steel, A. & Watters, C. 2000, 'Politics of deterrence and the mental health of asylum seekers, ' Journal of the American Medical Association, 284.5: 604-611. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.284.5.604

Steel, Z., and Silove, D. 2001, 'The mental health implications of detaining asylum seekers, ' Medical Journal of Australia, 175.11/12: 596-599.

Stubbs, D. 2004, 'Children Out of Detention: Chilout' in Social Movements in Action 2004, Conference Papers, Research Initiative in International Activism, University of Technology, Sydney, 89-92.

Sultan, A., and O'Sullivan, K. 2001, 'Psychological disturbances in asylum seekers held in long term detention: a participant-observer account, ' Medical Journal of Australia, 175.11/12: 593-596.

Tyler, H. 2003, Asylum: Voices Behind the Razor Wire, Lothian Books, Melbourne.

Warhurst, J., and Simms, M. 2002, 'Introduction' in 2001: The Centenary Election, eds. J. Warhurst and M. Simms, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1-8.

Weller, P. 2002, Don't Tell the Prime Minister, Scribe Publications, Melbourne.

Zwi, K., Herzberg, B., Dossetor, D., and Field, J. 2003, 'A child in detention: dilemmas faced by health professionals, ' Medical Journal of Australia, 179.6: 319-322.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/portal.v3i1.121

Share this article: