Australian Refugee History: a panel discussion on asylum and resettlement policy

Friday 13 October 2017
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
In store at Avid Reader Bookshop
Tickets $7.50, Book (Asylum by Boat) $29.99
Tickets available until 13 October 2017 6:00 PM

This event commences at 6.30pm. Printed tickets are not issued and your booking will be on a door list under your surname. 

Join historians Dr Claire Higgins, Dr Jayne Persian and Dr Alexandra Dellios for discussion of the hidden stories and behind-the-scenes decisions in Australian refugee history.

Spanning the resettlement of the Displaced Persons who built post-war Australia, to the arrival of Vietnamese asylum seekers by boat and the introduction of mandatory detention, the panel will show how historical research is essential to understanding Australia’s treatment of refugees today.

Dr Claire Higgins is the author of Asylum by Boat: origins of Australia’s refugee policy. The book traces how the Fraser government handled the arrival of Vietnamese asylum seekers by boat, and reveals how turn-backs and detention were proposed - and rejected. This important book is driven by the question of how we moved from a humanitarian approach to policies of mandatory detention − including on remote islands − and boat turn-backs. Like now, the politicians of the time wanted to control entry. Unlike now, they also wanted to respect Australia’s obligations under international law. Claire is a Senior Research Associate at the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW.

Dr Jayne Persian is the author of Beautiful Balts: From Displaced Persons to New Australians. The book recounts the extraordinary story of Australia’s first large-scale settlement of non-Anglo-Celtic migrants, who transformed not only Australia’s immigration policy but the country itself. Jayne is a historian of twentieth century Australian and international history at the University of Southern Queensland, and Co-Chief Investigator on a 2016-19 ARC Discovery Project: Displacement and Resettlement: Russian and Russian-speaking Jewish displaced persons arriving in Australia via the ‘China’ route in the wake of the Second World War.

Dr Alexandra Dellios is the author of Histories of Controversies: Bonegilla Migrant Centre, revealing an alternative picture of the migrant centre's role as a place of containment, control, deprivation and political discontent. This book tells a more complex tale than a harmonious making of modern Australia to include stories of migrant resistance and their demands on a society and its systems. Alexandra is a cultural historian and a lecturer at the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University.

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