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The idea that there is, or can be, an entirely orderly process for seeking asylum ignores the reality that forced displacement is anything but orderly. When fleeing persecution, violence and human rights violations, refugees are most often not able to obtain travel documents or arrange travel through authorised channels. Moreover, Australia has very restrictive policies which work to prevent citizens of countries where persecution is widespread from getting access to temporary visas of any kind. These policies leave many people seeking to flee to Australia with no way of entering in an authorised manner.

There are measures we can take to reduce the likelihood of asylum seekers undertaking risky journeys in the search for protection. Promoting better standards of refugee protection throughout the Asia-Pacific region, for example, would enable refugees to find safety closer to home, precluding the need for them to travel further afield. However, it is impractical and fundamentally unrealistic to base refugee policies on the expectation that flight from persecution can be shaped into a neat-and-tidy phenomenon.