Onshore processing: affordable and effective solution for asylum seekers

12 September 2011

Processing asylum seekers onshore using community-based placements would slash costs to taxpayers and provide good jobs for Australians say two key organisations in the community services sector.

The Australian Services Union (NSW and ACT) and the Australian Council of Social Service today join together in calling for a bipartisan approach that backs onshore processing and community-based placements as a humane solution which would provide good employment for workers who are ready to take on the task.

Sally McManus, the NSW and ACT Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union representing community workers, says onshore processing and community placements are by far the cheapest option for processing asylum seekers.

“Between 70-90 % of people who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees who eventually live in our community.

“There is overwelming evidence that long-term mandatory detention also causes mental health issues.

“Community-based placement would instead put a stop to the suffering associated with prolonged detention and ensure people were ready to move into the community with support from our members.

“Processing asylum seekers on shore and then having them live in the community is the approach nearly every other country in the world takes.”

Chief Executive Officer of ACOSS Cassandra Goldie said that Australian community organisations are more than willing to do the work associated with community detention and are well-equipped to do so.

“The community sector has the skills and expertise to provide the support required for community detention and they can provide it for a fraction of the cost.

“On average, we estimate that the annual cost to fund one adult asylum seeker in community detention is about $40 000.

“To keep an asylum seeker on Christmas Island currently costs over four times that amount and under the Pacific Solution the cost per asylum seeker was more than 12 times that figure, at about $0.5 million per person per year.

“It is misguided to be looking at off-shore solutions when the most effective, economical and humane method for processing asylum seekers is right here on our doorstep.”

Media Contacts: ACOSS Media Fernando De Freitas 0419 626 155
ASU Contact: Laura Maclean 0423 377 567