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Symposium on 'Public Attitudes to Refugees'

25 July 2015
9.00am – 5.00pm AEST
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Symposium on 'Public Attitudes to Refugees'

This symposium on 'Public Attitudes to Refugees' was organised by the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law in conjunction with the Migration Law Program (ANU) and the Centre for Refugee Research (UNSW). The symposium brought together academics, legal centres and social justice organisations to review existing literature on public attitudes to refugees. Participants discussed research on public opinion, discourse and framing in relation to both refugee issues and other contentious policy areas, to generate comparative insights. The symposium provided a chance to take stock and to consider new research opportunities relating to public discourse and attitudes about refugees.

Session 1: What do we know about international, national and regional attitudes to refugees and asylum seekers?

Chair: Harriet McHugh-Dillon, author of the 2015 Foundation House review ‘If they are genuine refugees, why? Public attitudes to unauthorised arrivals in Australia’

Attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees: Some international reflections
Dr Lisa Hartley, Lecturer, Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University

International media representation of Australia’s refugee and asylum policy
Hannah Laney and Anthony Kellett, Bachelor of Social Research and Policy students, UNSW

Exploring Australian attitudes to refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants
Professor Andrew Markus, Pratt Foundation Research Professor of Jewish Civilisation, Monash University

Understanding the acceptance of 'boat people' by young Australians
Jacqueline Laughland-Booy, PhD Candidate, The ‘Our Lives’ Project, Monash University

Representations of asylum seekers in the regional Australian press
Sam Cooper, Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Social Science student, UNSW
Erin Olejniczak, Bachelor of Social Research and Policy student, UNSW

Session 2: What are we learning?

Chair: Marianne Dickie, Director of the Migration Law Program, ANU

Common Cause: why values matter
Mark Chenery, Co-founder of Common Cause Australia

The refugee story: steps to a progressive narrative
Alex Frankel, Director, Frankly Research and Communications

Discussion session about experiences within the sector
- beginning with a short presentation by Chantelle Ogilvie-Ellis, Community Organiser: Asylum Seekers, Sydney Alliance

Session 3: What have others learnt?

Chair: Andrew Kaldor AM, Chair of the Advisory Committee, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW

The role of research in the ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign
Andrew Bunn, Research Director, Essential Media

Marginalised populations: parallels between the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre experience and refugees
Colette McGrath, Manager, HIV AIDS & Related Programs (HARP), South-Eastern Sydney Local Health District

Campaigning for marriage equality
Rodney Croome, Director of Australian Marriage Equality

Session 4: What could we do in the future?

Chair: Professor Jane McAdam, Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, and Scientia Professor of Law, UNSW

Autonomy born of fear: belief formation and decision making in modern politics
Peter Ellerton, Director, Critical Thinking Project, University of Queensland

Panel discussion
How can the link between ‘stopping the boats’ and ‘saving lives at sea’ be addressed?
What is the role of international law in framing responses?

Peter Ellerton
Najeeba Wazefadost, President, Hazara Women of Australia
Tony Mitchelmore, Managing Director, Visibility
Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia

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