We also call on the Government to refrain from using derogatory, misleading and prejudicial language when discussing asylum seekers.

The Immigration Minister has labelled those yet to lodge their application as “fake refugees” who are “conning” the system. He says Australia can no longer afford to be “taken for a ride by people who refuse to provide details about their protection claims.”

Such statements grossly misrepresent the situation for people who have been denied the opportunity to properly present their claim. In our experience, asylum seekers living in the community are desperate to have their application processed so that they can get on with their lives. The Minister’s statement implies it is their intransigence that is the problem, yet most were only given permission to apply for asylum relatively recently and face difficulties navigating the complex application process without legal assistance.

Critically, the suggestion that these people are “fake refugees” is at odds with any notion of fair process and is highly prejudicial.  Before their claims have been assessed the Minister has pronounced judgement. Such statements merely feed into a toxic discourse that demonises asylum seekers, fosters suspicion, and perpetuates false stereotypes.