Social Workers as Collaborators? The Ethics of Working within Australia's Asylum System

26 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2017

See all articles by Christopher Maylea

Christopher Maylea

RMIT University

Asher Hirsch

Monash University, Faculty of Law, Students

Date Written: April 6, 2017

Abstract

Social workers working within the Australian asylum seeker processing system, particularly offshore on Nauru and Manus Island, risk being collaborators in the systemic abuse of men, women and children who seek asylum in Australia. In order to avoid accusations of collaboration, social workers must work to end this abuse. However, the current policy environment makes this very difficult, with social workers who resist the status quo risking unemployment, public shaming and imprisonment. Using freedom of information disclosures, whistleblower testimony, leaked documents, parliamentary records, case law, media reports and academic literature, this paper examines this difficult position. Alternatives to retreating from the system are proposed, including advocacy through whistleblowing, policy reform and litigation, or subversive action from within. Social workers are encouraged to act in whatever ways they can, within the ethical, legal and practical limitations which are imposed.

Keywords: Asylum Seeker, Refugee, Whistleblowing, Policy, Litigation, Subversion, Boycott, Subversive, Social Work, Manus Island, Nauru

Suggested Citation

Maylea, Christopher and Hirsch, Asher, Social Workers as Collaborators? The Ethics of Working within Australia's Asylum System (April 6, 2017). Ethics and Social Welfare, Forthcoming; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3059397. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3059397

Christopher Maylea (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Asher Hirsch

Monash University, Faculty of Law, Students ( email )

Melbourne
Australia

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