Australia's asylum seeker policies are not widely understood. They are complex, and have changed many times, particularly since 2001. This chapter outlines Australia's policies towards asylum seekers and refugees. First, it highlights the fundamental tenets of the Refugee Convention, which forms the basis of Australia's obligations to refugees. It then explaines the different categories of intake, and the different procedures asylum seekers and refugees encounter to start a new life in Australia. We demonstrate that Australia's policies are based on a distinction between two groups of people needing protection: 'offshore' refugees and 'onshore' asylum seekers. The different reception of these two groups by the Australian government could not be greater. The result is a system of two classes of refugees---a distinction that contravenes our international obligations.
Yearning to breathe free: seeking asylum in Australia / Dean Lusher and Nick Haslam (eds.),
Chapter 1, pp. 9-20