Tuesday 20 June 2023 is UNHCR World Refugee Day. This year’s theme is ‘Hope away from Home. A world where refugees are always included.’

The theme highlights the need for refugees to be fully included and valued in the communities where they have found refuge from violence and persecution. In particular, this year’s World Refugee Day campaign highlights the right of refugees to access education and opportunities in their host communities. Find information, events and other ways to mark Word Refugee Day on the UNHCR website.

Unfortunately, not everyone who seeks asylum finds refuge, let alone inclusion, in a safe country.

The Australian Government has been committing human rights abuses against refugees and asylum seekers since 1992, when the then-Labor government introduced mandatory detention for asylum seekers. Read more about how mandatory detention breaches international law.

These abuses intensified in 2001 when the Howard Liberal government introduced the ‘Pacific Solution’ which excised Australian islands, intercepted boats carrying refugees, and created detention centres on Nauru, Manus Island and in Papua New Guinea. This was done with the full support of the Labor party.

While the current Labor government has offered some reprieve to refugees in Australia by offering a pathway to permanent residency to those on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Visas (SHEVs), it is still committed to Operation Sovereign Borders – the military turn-back of ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’. As the government website states, ‘There is only one way to gain entry into Australia – with a valid Australian visa.’ This is a clear contravention of the 1951 Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory, which includes the right to cross a border without a visa in order to seek asylum.

And while most of the refugees have been moved from Nauru to Australia, 13 people still remain in detention on Nauru. The Australian government is paying $422 million to the US-private prison operator MTC to keep Nauru detention centre open until 2025.

According to the Refugee Council of Australia, Australian governments have spent $11.66 billion on offshore detention and processing in the past 10 years.

Currently, there are around 14 000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR stuck in Indonesia (which is not a party to the Refugee Convention) who are prevented from seeking asylum in Australia. Read more about Australia’s history of border control inside Indonesia.

SUPRA supports the rights of refugees to seek asylum. We condemn the Labor government’s continuation of offshore detention programs, both on Nauru and in Indonesia.

Show your support for refugees and asylum seekers by educating yourself about the reasons people flee their countries and the struggles they face when seeking asylum.

Consider supporting a group that advocates for refugees in Australia: 

RISE: advocacy and activism by and for Refugees, Survivors and eX-detainees.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: support and advocacy for people seeking asylum.
Refugee Advice and Casework Service: legal and casework service for refugees and asylum seekers.