Academic journal article Refuge

The Psychological Impact of Extended Temporary Protection

Academic journal article Refuge

The Psychological Impact of Extended Temporary Protection

Article excerpt


Against the background of the recent international trend of a greater reliance on deterrence measures in managing the flow of asylum seekers, this paper discusses the implementation of the temporary protection visa (TPV) in Australia. It focuses on the psychological impact of the TPV policy on individual asylum seekers and how this unlimited temporary status affects the overall process of settlement. This study is based on personal narratives constructed by individual asylum seekers during one-on-one interviews aimed at sketching the mental and psychological manifestations of stressful events in their lives as TPV holders. What is particularly revealing among many of these TPV holders is the fact that their pre-migration traumatic experiences are compounded by a post-migration condition of being in indefinite "temporary" protection. This is further exacerbated by a prevalence of racialized discourses and exclusionary policies advocated by the host government. Past trauma and persecution, combined with present family separation and social exclusion, and further compounded by uncertainty about the future, had resulted in almost chronic states of anxiety and depression among a significant number of TPV holders.


Prenant comme toile de fond la recente tendance internationale de se fier aux mesures de dissuasion pour gerer le flux de demandeurs d'asile, l'article discute de la mise en oevre du visa de protection temporaire (Temporary Protection Visa--TPV) en Australie. Le propos s'attarde aux repercussions psychologiques des politiques liees au TPV sur les demandeurs d'asile individuels et e la maniere dont ce statut temporaire illimite touche l'ensemble du processus d'installation. L'etude se base sur des anecdotes de demandeurs d'asile relatees au cours d'interviews individuelles. Celles-ci visent a jeter un eclairage sur les manifestations mentales et psychologiques a la suite d'evenements stressants qu'ils vivent en tant que detenteurs de TPV. Chez de nombreux detenteurs de TPV, il est particulierement revelateur que les experiences traumatiques pre-migratoires sont aggravees par une condition post-migratoire de protection << temporaire >> indefinie. Cette situation se trouve exacerbee par la predominance des discours a teneur raciste et par des politiques d'exclusion mises de l'avant par le gouvernement hote. Les traumatismes et la persecution anterieurs, combines a la separation familiale et a l'exclusion sociale actuelles, sans oublier rincertitude face a l'avenir, ont entraine des etats presque chroniques d'anxiete et de depression parmi un nombre significatif de detenteurs de TPV.

Introduction (1)

As Australia enters the third millennium, its multi-ethnic make up has emerged as a crucial dimension in the search for a national identity. Indeed, the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census demonstrates clearly that Australia is a genuinely multicultural society with more than 20 per cent of its people being from a non-English-speaking background (NESB). The annual intake of migrants (now in excess of one hundred thousand new arrivals each year) means that a significant number of new members of Australian society embark each year on the settlement and acculturation journey, with its many emotional and practical challenges, which affect both the individual and the host society. Unless they are carefully managed and serviced, the problems associated with settlement, cultural adjustment, loss of community standing, and separation from family and friends can lead to physical and mental health problems. Australia is one of the few countries in the world with an organized resettlement program for migrants, which is also extended to offshore humanitarian entrants. However, Australia has also lead the world in the implementation of policies aimed at deterring asylum seekers. These policies include mandatory detention for all onshore arrivals without documents, a three-year temporary protection visa (TPV) for those found to be refugees, and the interception of asylum seekers arriving by sea and removing them to a third country for processing. …

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