22 Oct 2013

Australian Government wants asylum seekers called detainees

5:16 am on 22 October 2013

An Australian refugee advocacy group says it is disturbing that the Australian government has asked officials to refer to asylum seekers as detainees and illegal maritime arrivals.

A Refugee Rights Action Network advocate, Victoria Martin-Iverson, says she has received a communication sent from the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, to his staff, outlining the change.

Ms Martin-Iverson says under international law, anyone has a right to seek asylum, and referring to those people as illegal undermines this right.

"He says people must be referred to as illegal maritime arrivals because this is what we are trying to stop, people crossing our borders. He also insists that people no longer be referred to as clients but rather as detainees, because people held in immigration detention are not there to provide a service, they are there to be detained."

Ms Martin-Iverson says such language is creating a cultural climate of bigotry in Australia.