There is growing concern among many Australians over Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s PNG solution, which would send all asylum seekers to Papa New Guinea for processing with no chance of resettlement in Australia.
Students and young people feel ‘disillusioned’ with this new policy and see it as a violation of human rights.
Jade Tyrrell, President of National Union of Students (NUS) said the PNG policy is disappointing and unfair to refugees and asylum seekers.
“Offshore processing as a policy is quite inhumane, and we have seen the conditions in Nauru and Manus Island and they don’t appear to be acceptable,” she said.
She said young people are concerned with the treatment of asylum seekers because they recognise that it is a fundamental human right for refugees to seek asylum.
“When it comes to this policy is seen as a real human rights issue and as a real humanitarian issue,” she said.
This policy means asylum seekers that arrive by boat to Australia will be transferred to a third world country with high crime rates, poor health care and lack of sanitation.
Narre Warren North Labour MP Luke Donnellan said the PNG policy will work if it ” is one part of a larger regional solution that treats people humanely, fairly and actually processes them in a reasonable period of time”.
“As long as it is done in a humane way and at a regional level and PNG is part of it, I think it will work,” he said.
Mr Donnellan said it is important to give asylum seekers hope that they will be processed and given permanent residency.
“If they think they are going to go on a merry-go-round forever… of waiting in processing centres…. it is what gives people depression,” he said.
Farida Ghaibi, 21, Student from Narre Warren North tragically lost her cousin in August 2012 when the asylum seeker boat he was travelling on, capsized on its way to Australia
Ms Ghaibi said the policy will not deter people and asylum seekers will continue arriving on boat to Australia.
“It is not going to stop the boats… people are still going to come because they still have the hope that maybe they will change this policy,” she said.
She said labour’s policy is unfair because it preventing genuine refugees from living a better life.
“Everyone should be given the chance to settle in Australia… everyone has the right to do something better for their life,” she said.
Ms Tyrell said students are increasing pressure on politicians to have an open discussion and to revisit the policy.
“Students involved in the national union have taken part in pro-refugee rallies across the county… and also will be contacting refugee action coalition and networks to promote the fact that young people … care about this issue”.