“Boat People” and Borders: Changing Political Debate on Asylum Seekers

Room 920
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street


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Presented by John van Kooy, Research Fellow, Work and Economic Security, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Language used by politicians to describe people seeking asylum can influence how they are viewed by the general public and how they are treated by federal policy. This seminar will present research on the use of the term “boat people” in the Australian parliament from 1977-2013.

Over time, parliamentary language on “boat people” has shifted from concerns with humanitarian aid towards a focus on border control. As the debates have changed, people seeking asylum have been increasingly represented as security threats to be controlled both within and outside Australia’s borders.

About the Refugees and Forced Migration Seminar Series

Across semester two, the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and Researchers for Asylum Seekers (RAS) are partnering to present a fortnightly seminar series on a range of topics related to forced migration, refugees and people seeking asylum.

Events are held between 1pm and 2pm on Tuesdays at Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

All events are free and open to all. Bookings are not required. For further information email social-equity@unimelb.edu.au

Semester 2 Program

Download a PDF flyer of the program

DateLocationEvent NameSpeakers

1 August

Room 224

Behind “Behind the Wire”: Sharing New Perspectives
on Mandatory Detention

Michael Green and André Dao

15 August

Room 224

Nowhere People Have a Right to Somewhere:
Statelessness and the Law

Michelle Foster

29 August

Room 920

“Boat People” and Borders: Changing Political Debate
on Asylum Seekers

John Van Kooy

12 September

Room 920

Songs of Celebration and Suffering: Music and Refugees
in Australia

Samantha Dieckmann

3 October

Room 223

From Human Trafficking To “Smuggled” Refugees:
A Case from North Korea

Jiyoung Song

17 October

Room 920

Rising Seas: Climate change, Displacement and

Celia McMichael

31 October

Room 920

Closing the Chapter on Child Detention: Developments
in Normative and Legal Frameworks

Robyn Sampson