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Looking back, looking forward: Australia, Indonesia and asylum seekers 1999-2009

Hoffman, S. (2010) Looking back, looking forward: Australia, Indonesia and asylum seekers 1999-2009. In: Perera, Suvendrini, Seal, Graham and Summers, Sue, (eds.) Enter at own risk? Australia's population questions for the 21st century. Black Swan Press, Curtin University, Perth, W.A., pp. 117-140.

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Middle Eastern people smugglers operating out of Indonesia in the late 1990s and early 2000s placed Indonesia front and centre in Australia’s attempts to stop unauthorised boat arrivals reaching Australian shores. Although a major issue in Australia people smugglers and a few thousand asylum seekers were of less concern to Indonesia. People smuggling is not a criminal offence there, most of the asylum skertransite1 the country within months, and Indonesia, with its population of over two hundred million, had other problems to contend with. From the Australian government’s perspective, cooperation from Indonesia was vital if Australia was to successfully curb the arrival of smugglers’ boats on Australian shores. A resurgence of unauthorised boat arrivals in 2008 and 2009 has brought the issue to the fore again.

The author conducted 22 interviews in 2006 and 2007 with refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia and Australia as part of her doctoral research into the journeys of Iraqi asylum seekers. These were supplemented by conversations and group discussions outside of the interview scenario and the testimony of 36 Iraqi witnesses given during a people smuggling trial held in Perth. She draws on these and other sources to trace parallel stories — the beginnings and growth of Middle Eastern smuggling syndicates in Indonesia and the cooperation at different levels between Australia and Indonesia, and discusses some of the issues they raise.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Black Swan Press
Copyright: The Author
Publisher's Website:
Notes: Studies in Australia, Asia and the Paciifc
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