From Women’s Rights Lawyer in Pakistan to a Precarious Life in Australia: Learning From Lived Experience

Article


Babar, Mrs., Hartley, L., Burke, R. and Field, R. 2021. From Women’s Rights Lawyer in Pakistan to a Precarious Life in Australia: Learning From Lived Experience. Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage. 2 (1), pp. 57-60. https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.898y2
AuthorsBabar, Mrs., Hartley, L., Burke, R. and Field, R.
Abstract

Internationally the number of people displaced is at an historical high. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there were more than 79.5 million people displaced by conflict or persecution at the end of 2019 (UNHCR 2019). Australia is one of a relatively small number of countries that annually resettles refugees from overseas. In accordance with its international obligations under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Australia also provides protection to people who arrive in Australia seeking asylum. Historically, however, Australia’s policy response to people seeking asylum has been particularly punitive, including the re-introduction of temporary forms of protection for those found to be refugees.
The choice to participate in higher education is an important factor for many people seeking asylum in Australia (Hartley, Fleay, Baker, Burke, & Field, 2018). Further education can provide asylum seekers with important opportunities to develop and enhance capacities and knowledge to sustain their livelihoods; aiding resettlement, social inclusion, and personal life fulfilment (Fleay, Lumbus & Hartley, 2016). Despite this, access to Australian higher education remains a persistently difficult problem for people seeking asylum who are effectively locked out because of the temporary nature of their visas (Burke, Fleay, Baker, Hartley, & Field, 2020). Because of their visa status, people seeking asylum and refugees living on temporary visas are classified as international students and are therefore pushed to pay full fees. Further, these people lose the only welfare payment they are eligible to collect if they enrol in a program of study of over 12 months duration. This has created a subclass of asylum seekers and refugees who are effectively denied access further education in Australia, unless they are able to access one of the few fee-waiver scholarships offered by some Australian universities (Hartley et al., 2018).
While the gendered issues that women refugees face in accessing education have been documented (Hatoss & Huijser, 2010; Harris, Chi & Spark; 2013; Watkins, Razee & Richters, 2012), there is little known about how women from asylum seeking backgrounds access, or participate in, higher education in Australia.

JournalDisplaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage
Journal citation2 (1), pp. 57-60
ISSN2633-2396
Year2021
PublisherLiving Refugee Archive, University of East London
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Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.898y2
Publication dates
OnlineJun 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jul 2021
Copyright holder© 2021 The Authors
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