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Society and Culture Depth Study Asylum Seeker Essay

Asylum seekers are a group of people, who from fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, social group or political opinion, has crossed an international frontier into a country in which they hope to be granted refugee status. The Australian public opinion towards asylum seekers has often been unwelcoming at best and hostile at worst and this is often the way the media has portrayed the influx of people seeking asylum in Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s asylum seeker policy aims to tackle people smuggling. The Government is stepping up efforts to process asylum seekers offshore, and has recently negotiated a refugee swap deal with Malaysia. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to “stop the boats” through offshore processing, bringing back temporary protection visas and turning back asylum seeker boats where possible. It is interesting that my perception on hearing and seeing the media reports on the boat asylum seekers that it is an over whelming problem that the media has portrayed it to look like a growing problem with the influx of boats coming into Australian waters. Where as this article by ABC NEWS “Fewer asylum seekers heading to Australia: UNHCR “ according to the UN report the number of asylum seekers has dropped. After reading this article was the first I have heard the media mention numbers reducing in the arrival of people seeking asylum.

The numbers of asylum seekers coming to Australia has dropped by 9 per cent and the outcome of this has been described as “ modest and manageable “ according to the ABC NEWS article. As for many others like myself I can surely say that this isn’t often mentioned in other media coverage’s. In no way in this feature article does it portray asylum seekers to be out doing wrong and to be an overwhelming situation. This article clearing indicates positive co-operation with the Malaysian people swap deal as it states that “The Malaysia arrangement is the best way to do this, and Tony Abbott should get out of the way and allow the Government of the day to implement it border protection policies.”

The way the media can put together a story together on the news can change ones perspective on the producers editing skills. For instance, I have come across a Channel Nine news clip that reports on the centrelink benefits that the asylum seekers are granted with. Using the terms “the true welfare cost” and “current wave of asylum seekers” while sinister music playing in the background to create an unwelcoming scene towards the asylum seekers can cause a very influential decision making process made by the viewers at home.

While these words are used in a judgemental way that is creating a bad image for asylum seekers as undeserving and unwanted people. While the majority of the viewers would have taken no notice of the type of music being played because a subconscious trick has been played on our thoughts making these facts very more believing. As the reporter goes on images and texts are passing the background video footage of an incoming boat filled with asylums as the large, bold figures of statistics are distracting the viewer which makes it difficult to concentrate on the footage as we are being told that 3 out of 4 asylum seekers are granted these centre link benefits and other numerical figures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcSOtPv4RCY – Nine News asylum seekers report PART 2
STATISICAL ANALYSIS OF DATA RELATING TO ASYLUM SEEKERS

Asylum seekers have arrived by boat in Australia since 1976 when the first wave of asylum seekers arrived from Vietnam. Since then Australia has experienced boat arrivals from asylum seekers fleeing persecution from conflict such as countries including Cambodia, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Burma and Sri Lanka. A common myth that is pretty much focused on in the media is that most asylum seekers who come to Australia arrive by boat, giving rise to metaphors of a flood, tide or swamping of the county by those seeking asylum on boats. In fact, most asylum seekers arrive by air with a valid visa and later apply for asylum while living in the community (Parliament of Australia Library, 2011). Over the last decade, over 90% of boat arrivals have been found to be genuine refugees.

It is illogical and unfair to punish refugees and asylum seekers in the hope of deterring people smugglers. And numerous reports have shown that many asylum seekers are unaware of Australia’s domestic asylum policies, so the use of punishing policies has zero limiting effect. A clear example of the failure of punitive policies to prevent asylum seekers is the policy of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). The number of asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia continued to increase after the introduction of temporary protection visas in 1999 (48% more asylum seekers arrived by boat in 2001 than in 1999). Asylum seekers arriving by boat only started decreasing in 2003 when global asylum numbers started dropping. This evidence strongly suggests that temporary protection visas have no value as a restriction to number of asylum seekers arriving by boat. The same rationale holds true for mandatory detention, introduced in 1992.

Refugees, asylum seekers and the Australians who support them have had to endure countless media articles full of inaccuracies and stereotypes. But sometimes media organisations go one step further and publish information which is blatantly false. For example asylum seekers receiving centrelink payments. Asylum seekers are not entitles to the same forms of financial support as citizens or permanent residents. The asylum seeker assistance (ASA) scheme provides assistance to eligible asylum seekers who are in the process of having their basic living expenses, paid at 89 per cent of the centrelink special benefit.

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