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Problem-Solving Essay (as discussed in my lecture on the Problem-Solving Essay) at Södertörn

University College, April 2010.

How can the Australian Government be more humane in the treatment of boat people?

There is no humanity in the way in which the Australian Government treats refugees that arrive on
the shores of Australia via boat. These people are often described as ‘boat people’1. When they
arrive in Australia they are placed in detention centers that are described as being more similar to
concentration camps than a place of safety and respite2. These refugees need to be given better
treatment. The Australian government needs to take a more humane stand3 on immigration policies
when it comes to boat people.
The problem is that the Australian Government is not acting in a responsible and
humane way towards boat people. These people have been through horrific journeys to come to
Australia. They believed this to be their last hope, a last chance to live in safety. Often, these people
have spent their entire life savings to escape unthinkable situations only to find themselves in a
helpless position with a government that seems hostile and unwilling to help them4.

There are three ways in which the Australian Government can improve the way it
treats / deals with / boat people. The Government needs to re-access how money is spent in relation
to this issue. Rather than paying other countries, namely Indonesia, they should use this money to
speed up the processing of refugees. Australia funds several detention centers in Indonesia and
sponsors the country in the hope that they will take on refugees before they make it to Australia.5
Also the Government needs to lose their tough rhetoric tactics and take on a softer, more humane
approach when discussing these issues both internally and when addressing the nation. This should
be done rather than just following Prime Minister Rudd’s verdict of being tough but fair, which the
media adjudged to be more tough than fair. 6 It is the Government’s responsibility to encourage unity

1Boat people is the term given to refugees that are smuggled via boats into Australia often with the help of professional
people smugglers.
2 http://epress.anu.edu.au/anzsog/immigration/mobile_devices/ch04s02.html#ftn.d0e2516 (29/10/09)
3 By a more humane stand I mean that the Government should be more compassionate and show greater consideration.
4 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125676584673614229.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_world
5 Theage.com.auJonas Sidan 1 4/29/10
6 http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/rudd-can-chart-a-new-course-20091020-h6uf.html
and remind its citizens of their moral duty. It can not be forgotten that refugees are people in
desperate need of help. Lastly, the Government has to review and remodel detention centers,
removing all barbwire, caged walkways and prison like attributes especially in regards to detention
centers that house children.
Whilst this is the most humane approach some may argue that it is too much of a
utopian ideal. It could be said that it is unrealistic and the Governments first responsibility should
be to that of protecting the financial security and culture of its citizens. But it is possible to be
humane and responsible simultaneously.
It can be argued that Australia cannot afford to take in every refugee that is looking for
a fresh start. One can even go so far as to argue that a large percentage of boat people are not real
refugees of war and conflict but rather people looking for financial opportunities and an escape
from their homelands poverty 7. It is believed that these refugees will live off state welfare payments
and never contribute to the country. Another counter argument is of course that resources are limited
and that the Government is doing its absolute best given the circumstances.
There is no absolute solution to this complicated and disastrous problem. Whilst it is
the responsibly of the Australian Government to act with its citizens welfare as its first priority, this
does not mean it can ignore its human responsibilities. Boat people need to be processed with speed
and accuracy not passed onto other countries. The Government must change its rhetoric and
intolerant opinions and finally Australian detention centers need to be redesigned and made into
more humane places of safety.

7 Theage.com.au
http://epress.anu.edu.au/anzsog/immigration/mobile_devices/ch04s02.html#ftn.d0e2516 (29/10/09)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125676584673614229.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_world (29/10/09)

Theage.com.au (29/10/09)