- Settlement in the community, after a brief period of detention for health and security checks, in country towns or Tasmania. They would be entitled to work and to social security and Medicare.
- Regional processing in Indonesia. Burnside writes:
Those who are assessed as refugees would be resettled, in Australia or elsewhere, in the order in which they have been accepted as refugees. On assessment, people would be told that they will be resettled safely within (say) two or three months. Provided the process was demonstrably fair, the incentive to get on a boat would disappear instantly.I think both ideas have merit. The Indonesian idea shouldn't see significant numbers of people risking their lives in dangerous boats either.
At present, people assessed by the UNHCR in Indonesia face a wait of 10 or 20 years before they have a prospect of being resettled. During that time, they are not allowed to work, and can’t send their kids to school. No wonder they chance their luck by getting on a boat.
Genuine offshore processing, with a guarantee of swift resettlement, was the means by which the Fraser government managed to bring about 80,000 Vietnamese boat people to Australia in the late 1970s. It worked, but it was crucially different from the manner of offshore processing presently supported by both major parties. In addition, other countries also resettled some of the refugees processed in this way. It is likely that Australians would be more receptive to this approach if they thought other countries were contributing to the effort.