Over 1,810 academics from universities across Australia have signed an Open Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull and Members of Parliament, supporting the implementation of the the Academic for Refugees’ policy paper's recommendations, calling for a just and humane approach for refugees. 

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) supports both the Academics for Refugees policy paper and open letter, and encourages those who are yet to put their name to the open letter to do so. 

The Policy Paper recommends that Australia end its harmful policies of offshore processing, boat turnbacks and the mandatory detention of people seeking asylum. 

In particular, it recommends that the Australian government should adopt the following four measures:

  • close immigration detention centres and end mandatory detention;
  • initiate comprehensive law reform to ensure that Australia upholds its international obligations;
  • promote a decent livelihood and thriving communities for people seeking asylum or people who have been granted Australia’s protection; and
  • foster positive and empathetic narratives about people seeking asylum.

In terms of regional and global approaches, the Policy Paper recommends that Australia:

  • work with states in the Asia Pacific region to create a regional framework based on equity, capacity and responsibility; and
  • contribute towards making the international system more sustainable, equitable and humane.

Finally, the Policy Paper calls on the Australian government to convene a National Policy Summit in 2017, bringing together asylum seekers, refugees and former refugees; migrant and refugee advocates; policy experts; community representatives; and politicians from all parties. The Summit should result in constructive policy options and solutions for people seeking asylum that:

  • recognise the need for people to seek a life of safety;
  • recognise and facilitate the positive contributions of refugees to Australia’s communities;
  • respect Australia’s international obligations;
  • reflect a respectful relationship between Australia and its regional neighbours; and
  • recognise Australia’s potential for leadership on this issue. 

The Policy Paper is based on sound scholarly research and was written by several scholars from a variety of disciplines across Australian universities.

On 21-22 November 2016, Education International will organise an international conference on refugees in Stockholm, Sweden, to provide opportunities for affiliates and partners to share experiences and information about initiatives taken at international, national and local levels to enhance the rights of refugee teachers, children, youth and families.