Monthly Archives: September 2012

Boat carrying 146 asylum seekers intercepted near Ashmore Islands

September 30, 2012

A boat carrying 146 asylum seekers has been intercepted in Australian waters.

The ACV Ocean Protector intercepted the vessel north of Ashmore Islands on Saturday, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said in a statement.

An initial count suggests there were 146 passengers and three crew on board.

For “operational and safety reasons” 134 people are to be transferred to Darwin for initial security, health and identity checks.

The remaining 15 people are to be transferred to Christmas Island.

The government says the asylum seekers are at risk of transfer to Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island under the government’s offshore processing regime.



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More asylum seekers opt to return to Sri Lanka

September 29, 2012

Another group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers has asked to be sent home, rather than risk Australia sending them to an offshore processing facility.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the group consists of 28 men who arrived both before and after the new processing arrangements for Nauru and Manus Island were announced in August.

He says the men have come from detention centres on Nauru, Christmas Island, as well as mainland facilities including Villawood and Northam.

The men are on a flight to Colombo that departed Christmas Island this morning.

Earlier this month another group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers opted to head home rather than be sent to Nauru.

The national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, Angela Chan, says asylum seekers are starting to get the message.

“It appears that the measures that they’ve introduced recently are having an effect,” she said.

“Obviously it’ll be proven by the test of time. They are very tough measures and it certainly is a disincentive for many people.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration has confirmed that 52 boats and nearly 3,200 passengers have been intercepted since the new processing arrangements came into force.

It has also confirmed more than 300 asylum seekers were intercepted from three boats in Australian waters yesterday.

A total of 150 asylum seekers have now been taken to Nauru under the new policy.


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Filed under Deportation, PNG/Pacific Solution

198 people rescued from one asylum boat, 72 intercepted on another

September 28, 2012

Asylum seekers

A new boatload of Asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

THE government’s boat policy is being swamped, with a record number of asylum seekers arriving this month including 198 people rescued after they called triple-0

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority sent HMAS Broome to rescue passengers on the stricken vessel northwest of Christmas Island on Friday morning.

It was the second biggest boatload to arrive since Labor was elected in 2007. The biggest – carrying 211 – was intercepted last month.

The asylum seekers were taken to Christmas Island for security, health and identity checks.

Later, ACV Hervey Bay, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted a suspected irregular entry vessel north of Cocos and it is believed there were 72 people on board.

Since Labor announced it would send asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island last month, 3256 people, including more than 2000 this month, have arrived – more than six times the current capacity of Nauru’s processing centre.

There were due to be 500 places in Nauru by the end of the month, with 1500 to be the final capacity and 600 at Manus Island, where the army is constructing a tent camp.

The new boats arrived as 31 more Sri Lankan asylum seekers were flown to Nauru. They boarded a midnight charter flight in Darwin and landed at 5am yesterday with the Department of Immigration keen to show asylum seekers will be taken from mainland detention centres – not just Christmas Island.

After the new group left the plane to be bused to the Topside camp, two Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have spent only weeks on Nauru left on the charter plane bound for home.

They will get resettlement allowances of up to $3300 each.

Another asylum seeker asked to leave Nauru last week and was flown home while and a group of 18 Sri Lankan asylum seekers asked to be flown home from Christmas Island before they could be sent to the remote Pacific Island.



Filed under Boat Intercepted

Australia sends asylum group to Nauru

September 28, 2012

Australia’s Immigration Department says the first transfer of asylum seekers from the mainland to Nauru underscores its message to people considering seeking asylum by boat.

The Australian Government has warned that any asylum seeker who arrived after the announcement of its new policy in August risked being processed offshore.

But it has emerged that instead of being transferred from Christmas Island directly to an offshore centre, some asylum seekers have been sent to mainland Australia.

Now the Immigration Department has announced that some of those asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru.

Thirty-one Sri Lankan men have been taken from the northern Australian city of Darwin to Nauru.

Australia says it shows anyone who arrived after the new policy is subject to the policy, whether they are on Christmas Island or the mainland.

The fifth group of asylum seekers to arrive on Nauru brings the total to almost 150.

Meanwhile, a boat carrying 180 asylum seekers has been intercepted off Christmas Island.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says a passenger on board the boat made contact with Federal Police on Friday to request assistance.

The people on board are being taken to Christmas Island.


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Filed under Detention Centers, PNG/Pacific Solution

Asylum seekers ‘shocked’ to be on Nauru

September 27, 2012

THE Salvation Army says many of the asylum seekers transferred to Nauru are “quite shocked” to find themselves on the tiny Pacific island.

A fourth group of men was transferred there on Tuesday to have their refugee claims processed, bringing the total sent so far to 120.

The Salvation Army’s Major Paul Moulds said many of the asylum seekers he had spoken to had got on boats before learning Australian laws had changed.

“I think many of them that are here in this first group had thought that they would be processed in Australia,” Mr Moulds told the ABC radio on Thursday.

They had expected to be held for a period of time, but in Australia.

“They’re quite shocked, I think, to find themselves in this little island in the middle of the Pacific with very basic facilities.”

Mr Moulds said it was not surprising some of the men were questioning how long they could stick it out, given the lack of clarity about their likely length of detention.

One Sri Lankan man already had decided voluntarily to return to Colombo from Nauru, the immigration department said on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Mr Moulds said the atmosphere in the camp was “quite amazing” and it was a credit to the service providers that morale was so good.

The Salvation Army is one of those organisations, along with defence and the immigration department, working to finish the camps on the island.

Mr Moulds said the situation was not ideal but he rejected recent reports the asylum seeker camp was some kind of holiday resort.

His group and others needed to provide activities and not just leave the asylum seekers “sitting in depression and boredom”.


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Filed under PNG/Pacific Solution, Torturing and Health Issues

Asylum seeker boat intercepted

September 27, 2012

A boat with 74 people on board has been intercepted north-west of Ashmore Islands.

Customs vessel Ocean Protector, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, made contact with the boat overnight on Wednesday after it was initially detected by aerial surveillance.

The suspected asylum seekers will be taken to Christmas Island of Western Australia for security, health and identity checks.

Under the federal government’s new offshore processing arrangements for people who arrive in Australia by boat, they could be sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.


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Ex-Neighbours actress and Go Back presenter Imogen Bailey starts website Lessons Overboard to help asylum seekers

September 26, 2012

Imogen bailey

Imogen Bailey has started a website to help asylum seekers after seeing their plight on SBS series Go Back To where You Came From. Picture: Tim Hunter The Daily Telegraph

TRACING the journey taken by asylum seekers on the acclaimed SBS series, Go Back To Where You Came From has led actress Imogen Bailey in a new direction.

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Confronted by the real plight of refugees in Somalia, Indonesia and Christmas Island has shocked the former Neighbours star into action, launching a new website to share the “facts” Bailey was confronted with and provide a platform for asylum seekers to tell their stories.

Lessons Overboard has so far garnered the support of six refugee support agencies, including Amnesty International, taking its name from the infamous Children Overboard scandal which engulfed her Go Back co-star and Howard Government defence minister, Peter Reith.

Bailey and the ex-politician clashed over the incident during the documentary, with Reith fobbing off her questions by saying he was “not in the education business.”

Go Back To Where You Came From

It was a red rag to a bull, the one-time bikini model says, who set about building the “world’s biggest classroom” online to educate herself and others on the asylum seeker debate.

The website, which went live this week, seeks to challenge the “potent language” currently used by politicians and some media, in a bid to “strip away the fear tactics, start getting the facts out there and encourage both parties to make some daring choices,” Bailey said.

“The sloganeering holds a very ugly mirror to where Australian politics is at right now,” the 35-year-old activist said.

“I will never pretend to be a politician, or say I have the solutions but my answer is to educate.”

The one-time calendar girl makes no apologies for her campaigning, after years of feeling she needed to for her career choices.

“I’ve always felt really empowered by the (modelling) work I’ve done, but I also felt the need to apologise. Now, for the first time, I feel I don’t have to explain myself.”

She hopes to attract 10,000 followers to the site by October 7, the anniversary of the Children Overboard allegations, ahead of a November 10 “webinar” featuring refugees, experts and politicians


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Filed under Asylum Policy, Boat Tragedy, Human Rights and Refugee Activists