Fact Sheets

Notes on Health and Mental Health for Asylum Seekers and Refugees Held in Immigration Detention Centres and Living in the Community (pdf)

– These notes are designed to give some idea of health and mental health issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees held in immigration detention centres and living in the community. They constitute a survey and review of some of the studies and reports touching on this subject. It was originally prepared as a briefing note for the Federal Shadow Minister for Immigration by Rosemary Nairn of the Refugee Action Committee.


Who can help this young man now? Forced Deportation into the Hands of Terrorists. Turned down by the Refugee Tribunal, after three years in Baxter he was finally able to get documents proving he was on the terrorists’ death list back home in Algeria. Before he was able to present these to the Minister he was deported. Over 7,000 people have “just disappeared” in Algeria in the last decade.(RAC leaflet) Word 28 kb

TPVs, Detention and the journey to Afghanistan – leaflet for Marion Le’s talk in November 2003. Contains the story of Marion’s trip to a remote corner of Afghanistan seeking evidence to help an asylum seeker family plead their case to the refugee tribunal.

Letter to the Australian People from Iranian asylum seekers (Baxter, Aug 2003). “How can we show you we are not bad people? — We are real human beings — We are all very frightened — We need your help in this terrible situation. Please help us and stop this deportation of us.We beg you from our heart.”Word, 27 kb

Howard Government Deports Iranian Asylum Seekers – Are Iranian asylum seekers being traded for economic deals with a regime infamous for human rights abuses? Word, 53 kb

The Baktiyari family are Afghani and persecuted. They face imminent deportation. Mr Ruddock has vilified this family. They have not been given justice …
the family were deported at Christmas time in 2004

Child taken from parent. A seven-year-old Iranian girl who had been caged for over 2 years in Curtin and Baxter was suddenly removed and flown to Iran in a covert operation on Wednesday evening, 23 July..She was not even allowed to say goodbye to the sole carer – her father.

Death by deportation? – “Stop forced deportations. As you read this, asylum seekers in Australia’s refugee prisons are on a countdown to deportation. The Howard Government has announced that every Iranian who is currently held in detention will be deported back to Iran by the end of May.” (RAC leaflet) Word 32kb

Compassion Please – “Stop forced deportations. As you read this, asylum seekers in Australia’s refugee prisons are on a countdown to deportation. The Howard Government has announced that every Iranian who is currently held in detention will be deported back to Iran within 28 days.” (RAC leaflet) Word 33 kb

Nader’s Story – deported to Iran in June last year and not heard of since. (RAC leaflet) Word 31 kb

Death in Detention – Quoc Kinh Phung was a permanent resident of Australia. He arrived here more than 25 years ago, age 13, and had an Australian wife and two children. Threatened with deportation, he was incarcerated Maribyrnong detention centre, unable to be with his family, despite the fact that he was clearly dying of cancer. Article by Father Peter Nordern. (PDF 113 kb)

Extracts from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s report on Human Rights Practices in Iran in 2002, compiled by Pamela Curr. “This report explains why we are fighting attempts by Howard and Ruddock to deport Iranian detainees.” (Word 41 kb)

Returned Afghani Refugees Killed (RAC handout, Jan 03) Word 27kb

General information and appeals

Temporary Protection Visas – Is This a Fair Go? Greens NSW leaflet explains what TPVs are, how they deny refugee rights guaranteed under the 1951 Refugee Convention and place asylum seekers in a psychologically damaging state of constant uncertainty. (Word, 108 kb)

Trauma strikes the soul: an attempt to explore and understand the impact of the temporary protection visa on clients in New South Wales. by Pearl Fernandes, Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), Sydney. (Word, 77 kb)

Save this young boy’s sight – Most people in our detention prisons suffer severe trauma and psychological and physical illness and they do not get adequate medical treatment. Shahin’s story is but one example of cruel neglect. We are pleased to report that after this case received publicity, Shahin and his family were moved to Maribyrnong, nearer to the specialist medical treatment he needs. See this news

Plea for Compassion – “Give permanent visas to those recognised genuine refugees who live here for three years and show they can make a valuable contribution to the Australian community. Maybe we can’t save the millions who will be persecuted, tortured, imprisoned or die from malnutrition or war over the next year. But we can save the few thousands who came knocking on our door and asked us for help.” (RAC handout, March 2003) Word 48 kb

How Australia treats Innocent People: Some Detainees’ Accounts “There seems to be step up of the government campaign to break spirits and make conditions so bad that they will voluntarily choose to go home to likely death or persecution.” (RAC handout, Feb 2003) Word 23 kb (also available as an ordinary webpage)

How to get involved in the Refugee campaign in Canberra (RAC handout) PDF 63 kb

Children in Australia’s Detention Camps. There were still 318 children in detention at the beginning of 2003. “Even Minister Ruddock admits that less than half received schooling last year.” Two stories. (RAC handout, March 2003.) Word 22 kb

Who is a refugee? – What the United Nations Convention says. Not “Genuine Refugees”? – Stories of “failed asylum seekers”. (RAC handout) Word 42 kb

Something to Think About: Australia’s Asylum seekers – (RAC handout, Nov 02) Word 30 kb

28 Assorted Facts – The Current Australian Response to the Starving and the Persecuted . (RAC handout, Nov 02) Word 32 kb

Debunking myths about asylum seekers (RAC factsheet) PDF 81 kb

The case for freeing the refugees; The myths about Australia’s refugees; Inside Australia’s concentration camps; Why people become refugees. (RAC factsheet) PDF 436 kb

Fires fact sheet – Behind the new year crisis in our immigration detention centres. (RAC factsheet, January 2003). PDF 162kb

Why the fires? (RAC leaflet, Jan 2003) Word 27kb

The SIEV X Dossier – Why did 353 asylum seekers die? Is the Australian Government involved? (RAC factsheet) PDF 139 kb

Facts and Myths About Refugees

Myths&FactsMarch2011.pdf March 2011

July 2010: A new Myths and Facts sheet for the August 2010 election. Myths_and_Facts2010.pdf

October 2009 A Just Australia’s Myths and Facts about Asylum Seekers

The rest of this page was last updated in 2004. Remember how things were… or are they still the same?

Although this government insists on portraying asylum seekers as “illegal”, this is untrue. Under Australian and International Law, and Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a person fleeing persecution is entitled to come here and ask for asylum. People who arrive in Australia without visas or valid documents are not necessarily trying to deceive us. Many asylum seekers are forced to leave their countries secretly and in haste to avoid imprisonment or worse for themselves and their families. Read on to get the truth about asylum seekers:

Refugee Action Committee fact sheet (PDF 436kb) — The Case for Freeing the Refugees.

Myths propagated by politicians

Links to further reading

Myths and Misconceptions [PDF] from Jack Smit

HREOC’s “Face the Facts” page on refugees and asylum seekers.

Are Asylum Seekers Illegal? – Debunking the myths – from the Hotham Mission asylum seeker project’s website

Are boat people queue jumpers? Are they real refugees or not? Debunking Myths about Asylum Seekers [PDF 81kb] and Debunking More Myths about Asylum Seekers [PDF] – from the Edmund Rice Centre

The Refugee Council of Australia’s FAQs and Stats include Who are refugees? and Myths and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia’s fact sheets – alternatives to detention, children at risk, Australia’s obligations, how refugees arrive in Australia, and more.

Refugee Claimants – Myths and Facts – from Scattered People

Myths and facts about refugees [PDF] updated Feb 2002, from the Australian Education Union

Know the Facts – from Rural Australians for Refugees

The generous country? Asylum seeking in Australia: myths, facts and statistics – Peter Mares, author of Borderline: Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers talks about the Government’s use of refugee statistics to give the impression that “the vast majority of Afghan asylum applicants, and by implication, all so called ‘boat people’ are seeking to abuse the system … [and] that our system is overly generous”.

Hitler or Hussein, no queue – Renata Caldor tells how her family escaped from Europe and came to Australia as refugees, and points out that today their behaviour would earn them the title of queue jumpers and illegals: “I know of no one who escaped who waited in an orderly queue. Totalitarian states don’t work that way. Escape from totalitarian regimes is not an orderly process . . . I wonder how the escape from Hungary of my husband’s family would be interpreted today.” (Australian, July 16, 2002)

The big lies of border protection – Malcolm Fraser, writing in The Age, March 27 2002

Unfinished Journeys: Refugees and migration in Asia and the Pacific; facts and figures, key issues, case studies, opinion, news and more, from ABC Radio Australia.

The Unwanted Stranger? Refugees in Australia (April 2002) – background paper by Kerry Murphy for the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. “The current system places greatest importance on border control and preventing abuses. This focus fails to recognize the complexities of human experience and does not protect rights nor respect people’s dignity. These challenges are particularly relevant for Australians in the twenty-first century.”

Reporting Australia’s Asylum Seeker “Crisis” (July 2002) – Peter Mares on how government propaganda and censorship, and media reporting, have shaped public perceptions. “The demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers for political gain may have reached its apotheosis during Australia’s 2001 federal election campaign but the practice was already firmly entrenched. The media is not free of blame in this regard.”

Doublespeak – refugee advocate and lawyer Julian Burnside shows how both the Government and the Opposition use language to conceal uncomfortable truths about the way we treat refugees.

Debunking the Myths about Asylum Seekers written by Kerry Murphy for Uniya – Jesuit Social Justice Centre. “What data is available indicates that most are driven by `push’ factors (driving them out), rather than `pull factors’ (attracting them to developed countries)” – looks at the global situation and the various reasons why people are on the move. Written in Feb 1997, this article states prophetically: “While Australia has a good international record in resettling refugees, it has a record for panic responses to arrivals by boat.”

Links to Fact sheets from the Brisbane Actionweb for Refugee Collaboration include some mentioned here, and more.


Free the Refugees (Word)
Free the Refugees (PDF)
petition_health.doc April 2005 health and departure pending bridging visas.

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