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Cruel Care: A History of Children at our Borders’: Jordana Silverstein

16 June 2023
12.00pm – 1.00pm AEST
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Australia has long grappled with how to treat refugees, particularly children, who come to our country. Cruel Care: A History of Children at our Borders asks why Australia pursues such unforgiving immigration policies, and why successive Australian governments say that the cruel acts they perpetrate are a form of care.

This is a story of government: of the politics and emotions that drive national policy. Meticulously researched – and drawing on interviews with key Australian policymakers, along with a rich set of archival sources – this book explores how legislation, ministers, political parties and the public service have combined to create a narrative of compassion while pursuing repressive policies. It details the weaponisation of rhetoric such as ‘best interests of the child’ and the histories of race – and racism – that influence Australian discourses of national security.

Cruel Care asks provocative questions about how policymakers are shaped by, and in turn shape, their histories, communities and the nation. It is a clarion call for better treatment for all who arrive on our shores. Join the book's author Jordana Silverstein and CCLJ Director Maria Giannacopoulos to discuss this groundbreaking examination of Australia’s treatment of child refugees.


Jordana Silverstein

Jordana Silverstein is a senior research fellow at the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness at the University of Melbourne. She has also been a visiting scholar at the ANU’s Humanities Research Centre. She is the author of Anxious Histories (2015) and co-editor of Refugee Journeys (2021), and her criticism and essays appear widely in Australian publications.