Different in the same way? Accommodating language, culture and disability in refugee procedures, 4 May 2016

Posted by fp74 at Apr 02, 2016 03:15 PM |
Laura Smith-Khan discussed the interactions between government and non-government authorities on refugees and asylum seekers last 4th May 2016.
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About the Seminar

How do government and non-government authorities understand and accommodate diversity in their interactions with refugees and asylum seekers?

This seminar brings together findings from two different research projects on refugees, dealing with a common question: how do government and non-government authorities understand and accommodate diversity in their interactions with refugees and asylum seekers?

The first part of the seminar draws on the emerging findings of doctoral research in linguistics, conducted at Macquarie University. It focuses on the assessment of credibility in Australian asylum procedures. Using critical discourse analysis, I evaluate credibility assessment guidelines for asylum appeal decision makers, along with a selection of published decisions.

The second part of the seminar is based on a three-year research project conducted by a team from Sydney Law School, at the University of Sydney. This project sought to explore the experiences of refugees with disabilities across six countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Uganda, Jordan and Turkey) in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The focus here was primarily on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and how it interacts with and accommodates persons with disabilities in displacement situations.

In these two case studies, the responsible institutions (the Australian Immigration Department and UNHCRrespectively) acknowledge that refugees and asylum seekers may need particular assistance or accommodation due to their diversity. However, the culture of the institution itself can create difficulties. The tendency to standardise or simplify difference can mean that persons of a given culture, religion, gender or country of origin are expected to act in standardly different ways. Standard categorisation also applies for disability: a person can be coded as having, for example, a vision impairment or a physical impairment, but little may be actually known about the person’s lived experience, their individual needs and capabilities in displacement and other important aspects of their lives. This limits the suitability of operational responses and procedures and may lead to false and discriminatory assumptions.

Both studies support the conclusion that the concept of diversity needs to be more closely and critically examined, alongside institutional discourses that value categorisation and standardisation. This would better allow the development of policy and procedure which are truly inclusive, and that best promote and ensure the rights of people seeking international protection as refugees.

You can view the slides here.

You can view the online screen reader accessible version here.

You can find more information about the event and about our discussant here.

For any enquiries please contact Foteini Panagiotopoulou or Tarine Felix.

This was a jointly organised by the Unit for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE), and Leicester Migration Network.

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