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The significant issues in the case

A scoping document for your policy proposal.

In this proposal, you are required to describe the policy problem and field, and argue the case for why this is an important issue requiring policy reform. Specifically, you should:

• Describe the issue or problem requiring remedy.

• Justify why a policy initiative is necessary/appropriate, particularly in terms of the impact on low income and/or disadvantaged people.

• Identify which level of Government and Government Department is appropriate to approach.

• Identify the key players (both inside and outside of government).

• Briefly outline what solution you consider appropriate.

• Indicate the level of resources you think will be required.

• Anticipate what objections are likely to be raised about the policy proposal and by which players.

The policy under review here is The Detention of Boat People. This compulsory detention policy undertaken by the government of Australia in the year 1992 had come into force in the year 1994(Aph.gov.au, 2015). This policy was primarily taken as a result of the increasing number of illegal arrivals of boats that has been prevalent in the last few years. After the policy came into force a number of people are retained under this policy.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of detentions of the illegal boats in the last couple of years and this has led to a number of controversies. There have been alleged suicides, break of riots, allegation of child abuses and the finger has been pointed towards these detention centers and the level of care and management in these centers.

The legality of these detentions has been under scrutiny and reports have suggested that nearly ninety percent of the people who were detained are later found to be legal refugees. Campaigns in this regard have come up which criticize this detention policy of the government and have suggested that more humane policies should be adopted by the government that is prevalent in the other countries with respect to the asylum seekers (McKay, Thomas and Warwick Blood, 2011).

The government however states that the basic reason behind the detention of the boat people in Australia is that lately there has been an increase in the number of illegal boats arriving in Australia and hence in order to maintain the integrity of the migration programs this policy is essential (Poynder, 1997). However, most people criticize this policy and state that the policy is immensely discriminative and the severity of the policy leads to distress and makes them suffer more as a result of which it becomes difficult to incorporate themselves into the community later on (Neilson, 1996)

The broad coastline of Australia tends to increase the chances of movement of the illegal people and for a number of years such illegal movements have been occurring in the country. Gradually the more specific groups have been arriving and the increasing number of these groups led to term ‘boat people’ being coined (Aph.gov.au, 2015). In the last few decades there have been a large number of positive changes in the detention policies and practices that has been undertaken by the government.

A policy initiative is appropriate

The compulsory policy regime regarding detention in Australia tends to identify the improved migration system and culture and also the racist tendencies that are related to this policy.

The government states that the claims made by the campaigners that the detention of the boat people leading to cruel and evil treatment and conditions in these detention centers, are mostly exaggerated and recently they claim that the detentions have lowered and can be considered as a feasible option.

The primary policy detention which made the detention regime in Australia was that the detention policy would be compulsory for all the unlawful non citizens in Australia (Poynder, 1997) (Millbank, 2001). The policy would be such that all the non citizens who have arrived unlawfully would be detained in the country and only if they obtain legal permission to stay in Australia would retain there or would be removed immediately.

Primarily this detention policy was transformed into legislation and named as the Migration Reform Act 1992. In this statute all the relevant procedures for the initial decisions were given (Healey, 2013). It clearly mentions the status of these people arriving in Australia as to whether they are lawful citizens or not and according the detention policy would be applied (Procter, De Leo and Newman, 2013). The enactment came into force in September 1994 and regulations relating to release of detainees on compassionate grounds were also enacted. However, it was observed that in practice there has been very few who have been released.

Generally it is the Department of Immigration that is concerned with the detention of the non citizens who have arrived unlawfully. In recent times there has been a number of up gradation in the detention and security arrangements and as a result there have been a number of detention centers that have concerned with illegal detainees. The six detention centers are Villawood Immigration Detention Centre situated in Sydney, Maribyrnong IDC situated in Melbourne, Perth IDC situated in Perth, the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre in West Australia and Woomera IRPC in South Australia.

Among all these detention centers it is Woomera that has the reputation of being the most infamous. Other than these six detention centers the government is looking forward to establish some more detention centers.

One of the significant players in this regard would be the United Nations and the related international instruments. These instruments place a lot of stress on human rights issues. There exist a number of treaties, conventions, declarations, principles guidelines and regulations relating to issues pertaining to human rights. Among these there are some instruments that are binding on Australia. Some of the relevant instruments relating to human rights are the Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and Discrimination on Religion and Belief and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women.

Australia is not bound by all the international instruments. However, the instruments which the country has ratified will be binding on Australia and the laws made should not be contrary to those instruments. Hence Australia cannot make any such laws that against the international human rights detention policies.

With regard to the internal factors the detention policies in the country is covered by the Migration Reform Act 1992. It provides that the detention policy for the non-citizens have been made by the government keeping in mind the human rights issues of the country.

This particular regime on the detention of the Boat people tends to identify a very improved migration system. It is true that there is a lot of place for improving the detention policy so as to remove the present problem areas that exist as a result of this policy.  Yet it can be said that this policy is well acquainted as compared to the international standards and regulations. But the number of boat people in detention has still been increasing and campaigns for cruel treatment to these boat people are also doing the rounds very often. There has also been news of thousands of people being in outback camps were also heard.

Most of the commentators have stated that the only way out possible would be to curb the illegal asylum seekers that is continuously flowing from the western countries (Probyn, 2014). The Refugee Convention 1951 had legitimized the movement of refugees from various countries. The Australian Government like any other western country is in an attempt to balance the requirements and the demands so as to meet the obligations provided by the International Convention. The government has been lately also trying to discourage the arrival of the illegal boats and goods of smuggling. If the root cause of the problem that is the arrival of the illegal boats can be curbed then the question of detention and atrocities towards the detention also does not arise. It must be kept in mind that Australia has to maintain the image of a civilized and independent society.

References

Aph.gov.au, (2015). Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976 – Parliament of Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/BoatArrivals [Accessed 24 Mar. 2015].

Aph.gov.au, (2015). The Detention of Boat People – Parliament of Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/CIB/cib0001/01CIB08#upto [Accessed 24 Mar. 2015].

Healey, J. (2013). Asylum seekers and immigration detention. Thirroul, N.S.W.: Spinney Press.

McKay, F., Thomas, S. and Warwick Blood, R. (2011). 'Any one of these boat people could be a terrorist for all we know!' Media representations and public perceptions of 'boat people' arrivals in Australia. Journalism, 12(5), pp.607-626.

Millbank, A. (2001). The detention of boat people. [Canberra]: Dept. of the Parliamentary Library.

Neilson, B. (1996). Threshold Procedures: ‘Boat People’ in South Florida and Western Australia.Critical Arts, 10(2), pp.21-40.

Poynder, N. (1997). The Incommunicado Detention of Boat People: A Recent Development in Australia’s Refugee Policy. Australian Journal of Human Rights, 3(2).

Probyn, A. (2014). [online] Available at: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/24570477/boat-people-detention-illegal/ [Accessed 24 Mar. 2015].

Procter, N., De Leo, D. and Newman, L. (2013). Suicide and self-harm prevention for people in immigration detention. The Medical Journal of Australia, 199(11), pp.730-732.

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