Between Freedom and Neglect: Community-Based Approaches and Neoliberalism In Policies For Asylum Seekers In Australia

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Yoshikazu SHIOBARA , Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
Policies regarding asylum seekers in Australia have changed frequently since the late 2000s. The federal Labor government that came into power in 2007 decided to abolish the notorious policies of the former conservative government, namely, the “Pacific Solution” and Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) scheme, both of which aimed to reduce the numbers of Irregular Maritime Arrivals (IMAs) and violated their human rights. On the other hand, the Labor government maintained the problematic policy of mandatory detention for asylum seekers, and therefore sought to develop “Community-based” approaches for asylum seekers to argue that the government guaranteed their human rights. Thus, the Labor government developed the Community Detention program and expanded of the number of asylum seekers who were issued a Bridging Visa E (BVE) and released into local communities. While human rights lobbies and refugee service providers tended to welcome the policy change because it released asylum seekers from detention centers, the advancement of the Community-based approaches was also a response to the need to bring down the high costs of the existing asylum seekers policy. In other words, the Community-based approaches for asylum seekers can be recognized as a segment of the neoliberal reforms of Australian social policy.
In this paper, I will examine the details of the Community-based approach to asylum-seeker policy in Australia from 2007-2013, using policy and discourse analysis from a sociological point of view. I suggest that the policy aimed to promote freedom for ethnic minorities can result in their neglect when the discourse of neoliberalism and spatial management are utilized to justify the policy.