Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia

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Drawing together for the first time the oral testimony and written submissions from the People’s Inquiry into Detention, this powerful and vital overview stands as an indictment of Australia’s refugee policy and demonstrates how social work can contribute to changing public perceptions and to challenging harsh policies that violate core human rights tenets. Following the wake of the Cornelia Rau scandal, this record depicts the establishment of the People’s Inquiry, documenting the heartbreaking evidence they reviewed regarding asylum seekers’ journeys to Australia and the lives of refugees during and after the determination process and detention. Clearly and comprehensively presented, this is a haunting journey guided by voices from every side of the fence—former and current immigration detainees, refugee advocates, lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, and former detention and immigration staff. Taken together, their stories record a humanitarian disaster that sounds a warning to current and future policymakers, establishing a message that will resonate for years to come.

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This was a textbook for one of my university subjects on Human Rights. It was an easy read, yet very informative. It has enough detailed information, to be able to provide facts and statistics; yet also many personal narratives, that allow you to relate to those affected. This includes the refugees themselves; as well as workers in the detention centres, legal staff, educators etc. A must read! 

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About the author (2008)

Linda Briskman is the Dr. Haruhisa Handa chair of human rights education at Curtin University. She is the author of The Black Grapevine and Social Work with Indigenous Communities. Susie Latham is a registered migration agent, a social worker, and an adjunct research associate at the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University. She has volunteered at Melbourne’s Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre and as an English tutor to refugees. Chris Goddard is the director of Child Abuse Research Australia at Monash University. He is the author of In the Firing Line and The Truth is Longer Than a Lie.

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