Why do we love to hate boat people?

One of the country’s pre-eminent race relations specialists will discuss Australia’s enduring antagonism towards boatpeople at a special University of Western Sydney Open Forum on May 24 at 6pm at UWS Parramatta.

The forum, Why we love to hate boat people?,  will hear from Professor Andrew Markus, the Pratt Foundation Research Chair of Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Professor Markus, who arrived in Australia as a refugee, has published extensively on Australian immigration and race relations, with his recent publications including the co-authored Australia’s Immigration Revolution (2009) and Immigration and Nation Building: Australia and Israel Compared (2010).

Professor Markus heads the Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion national research program, which will be conducting its fifth national survey in 2012.

He proposes a new approach to asylum issues.

“So many people hold strong views, certain that they have a solution. But what if we start the conversation with recognition that there is no one solution, no simple answer?” he says.

The Open Forum will be moderated by former Human Rights Commissioner and Director of Equity and Diversity at UWS, Dr Sev Ozdowski.

Dr Ozdowski authored the groundbreaking report into children in detention, A Last Resort, which ultimately led to their release from mandatory detention and a rethinking of the Howard government’s detention policies.

“The level of fear and anxiety about people arriving to Australia on boats has not diminished in recent years, as seen by the tracking of each new arrival by the media and an anxious public” says Dr Ozdowski.

“This has been a constant theme in Australian history, from the gold rush through Federation and right up until today, and it will be very interesting to hear from Professor Markus as to the reasons for this.”


11 May 2012 

Contact: Mark Smith, Media Officer