Destination Australia: Journeys of the Moribund

19 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019

Date Written: July 10, 2019


Australia sends many of those who come in search of refuge to regional processing centers in Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Most of these asylum seekers and refugees want to continue their journey to Australia but the Australian Government has vowed that none will be given protection in Australian territory. However, there have been recent developments in the Federal Parliament and Federal Court that have paved the way for certain asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru and Manus Island to come to Australia. In this chapter, I investigate these legislative and judicial developments and argue that they indicate that the place of human rights and international law is becoming increasingly peripheral in Australia’s refugee law and policy and instead transfers to Australia have become medicalized. Australia’s parliamentarians and courts have moved to protect asylum seekers’ physical and mental health but not the rights flowing to them as people, children, and refugees. Asylum seekers and refugees must be moribund before they can use legal processes to transfer to Australia and they come as sick people in need of medical care—not as bearers of legal rights. These developments hamper larger efforts to end or fundamentally reform Australia’s offshore processing regime.

Keywords: Refugees, Australia, Offshore detention, Transfer to Australia on medical grounds

Suggested Citation

Ogg, Kate, Destination Australia: Journeys of the Moribund (July 10, 2019). ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 19.18, Available at SSRN: or

Kate Ogg (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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