Morrison Government continues arbitrary detention policies despite community support in for resettlement of refugees

Media Release

26 October 2020

An Essential Media poll on attitudes towards detention release and resettlement was commissioned by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and conducted online from 30th September to 5th October 2020 and based on 1,074 respondents.

Significantly, poll results show there is wide agreement that indefinite detention is inhumane, and refugees should be immediately allowed to resettle once their claims have been processed, especially amongst Liberal/National voters.

Poll results show:

  • Over half of people (54%) strongly and somewhat agreed with the statement ‘Once a person is found to be a refugee, the Australian Government should immediately progress their resettlement,’ with just 21% disagreeing.

  • 52% of LNP voters either strongly agree or somewhat agree that those found to be refugees should be resettled immediately.

  • There were more who agreed, 49% (rather than disagree, 26%) with the statement ‘It is inhumane to detain people seeking asylum indefinitely in immigration detention facilities.’

However, despite growing community support for humane policy and resettlement of refugees, including amongst LNP voters,  the Home Affairs Department has allocated $1.19 billion to spending on offshore processing in 2020-21, after a $436 million (83%) blowout in expenditure in 2019-20.

All while Australia is short of 1 million new immigrants to boost economic growth and stimulate recovery.

People continue to be detained offshore and onshore, and continue to be transferred around detention facilities, including Christmas Island without a plan.

The latest transfer is of a group of ten people from offshore processing on Nauru to the general detention area of Villawood detention facility in Sydney, NSW.

People were told before they left Nauru, that they would be held in detention and that they would be returned to Nauru after their medical treatment.

Senator Lambie’s threat to reveal details of the deal she made with the Government to repeal Medevac rings alarm bells that the Government is not moving towards any kind of sensible policy solution, just more unjustified budget blowouts and arbitrary shuffling of people across facilities, who have suffered through close to eight years of harmful detention.

Musician, human rights activist and Mantra Hotel Alternative Place of Detention (APOD) detainee, Moz Azimi said:

 “We have been locked up for almost eight years just for seeking safety and protection from Australia, separated from our family and friends.”

“Despite Senator Lambie and community pressure for a resolution, the Government traps us in detention despite many Australians supporting us outside this place.”

“We can work, pay tax, contribute to society and live with friends and family instead of this torture of indefinite detention, just out of reach and out of sight from the Australian community.”

ASRC Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Jana Favero said:

“This latest  Essential Media poll we commissioned shows that Australians want a humane resolution and resettlement for refugees indefinitely detained for close to a decade of their lives.”

“The results show that the Morrison Government is out of touch with community attitudes, because people want a compassionate, humane approach. ”

“The ASRC calls on the Morrison Government to listen to the community and reveal a resettlement solution so people can recover from long-term mental and physical health deterioration caused by their detention, and rebuild their lives in a new, safe home.”


Media contact: Jana Favero 0438 829 651

Here is a summary of previous polls commissioned by Getup for your reference if needed, let me know if you would like to see the full reports.

Community attitudes measured by an Essential Media poll in 2019 and 2017 commissioned by Getup show sizable support for humane policies such as proper medical treatment for people held offshore via the Medevac laws and resettlement via the New Zealand deal.

In 2019, poll results showed 49% of Coalition voters agreed that the Medevac legislation strikes a balance between strong borders and humane treatment for people in offshore detention, with 41% of people polled overall agreed.

In 2017, poll results showed 60% of Liberal/National voters agreed that the Australian Government should accept the offer from New Zealand to resettle refugees currently (then) on Manus Island, and 64% of people polled overall agreeing.

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