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The Inaugural Alfred Deakin Research Institute Essay Challenge, 2014:
‘Interrogating the Im/morality of Refugee Policy and the Politics of Refugee Resettlement in Regional Australia.’
A young Tamil asylum seeker living in the community recently self-immolated in Geelong, Victoria. According to various reports, he did so after hearing Immigration Minister Scott Morrison promise to deport Tamils residing in Australia to Sri Lanka and feared torture and death at the hands of the authorities upon his return.
At a special ABC Q & A programme held in Geelong on Monday 30 June, an audience member related this story to the panel and asked: ‘What sort of lessons do they think we, as a nation, are teaching our children about compassion, about helping the most vulnerable and marginalised and about being a responsible global citizen, given the refugee and asylum seeker policies that both major parties support?’
In this essay challenge, we are asking PhD students to think about this question deeply and submit their responses to an expert panel convened by the Alfred Deakin Research Institute at Deakin University. We are asking students to draw on Australia’s past in order to inform the present: to offer some moral and ethical principles, with reference to our sense of who we are in the world, upon which a new refugee resettlement policy may be based.
The practical challenge of the essay task is for students to explore how these principles may be implemented, namely, just how and where refugees should be settled in Australia. Julian Burnside recently offered one solution. Writing in The Age on 18 June, he argued that after a month of initial detention, ‘all boat arrivals to Australia would be released into the community’ and ‘required to live in a specified rural town or regional city.’ According to Burnside,
‘There are plenty of towns in country areas which would welcome an increase in their population and a boost to their local economy…there are more than 90,000 unfilled jobs in rural areas. It is likely that adult male asylum seekers would look for work, and would find it.’
Burnside’s assumptions about ‘the regions’ were challenged at the same Q & A programme held in Geelong, where locals expressed fear and uncertainty regarding rising unemployment and significant cuts to government services. At the same time, recent opposition to the building of a Mosque in Bendigo raises further questions about just what type of ‘population increase’ that regional areas might welcome, not to mention the deeper problem of urban-regional relations in Australian politics and society.
Students may ask, what responsibilities would communities have to refugees? Are they the same as to citizens? What does citizenship mean? What responsibilities would refugees have to the community and how could their inclusion improve or harm the social fabric?
Essays must not exceed 2000 words and be accompanied by a 500 word abstract.
The winning essayist will be awarded an internship (non-residential) at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute aimed at writing for publication. The winner and essay finalists will be invited to partake in a workshop with leading policy and academic figures at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute in late 2014. We envisage the publication of a workshop volume containing the essays of panellists and selected finalists on the Australian Policy and History website.
Essays must be submitted to Dr Filip Slaveski at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org by 29 September 2014.
Back to the Alfred Deakin Research Institute website.