Speech June 7 2011


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Speech June 7, 2011

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Speech June 7 2011

  1. 1. Community Campaigns for a Difficult to Reach and Culturally DiverseAudienceOpening slideCase study: the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s NationalCommunications Branch – ‘People smuggling. Don’t risk it’communications activitySandi LoganThank you all for your time today.My name is Sandi Logan. I head the Department of Immigration andCitizenship’s National Communications Branch and as you’ve no doubtseen on television, heard on radio and read in the papers, we’ve got quitea bit on our hands.One of the department’s biggest issues is that of asylum seekers - ‘boatpeople’ or irregular maritime arrivals, as they’re also known - and themeans they use to come to this country.I should probably spend a few minutes setting the scene and giving yousome background and context to what has become an issue of greatdebate in recent years.But before I do, let’s first get a sense for Australia’s record as an immigrantnation.The most ambitious part of Australias migration program followed the endof World War II.Slide 2In more than six decades of planned post-war migration, we’ve welcomednearly 6.8 million migrants. 1
  2. 2. An important aspect of post war migration was the establishment of ahumanitarian program, following an agreement signed with theInternational Refugee Organisation, to resettle 12 000 people a year fromEurope.Since then, around 750 000 refugees and humanitarian entrants havearrived in Australia, which is incredibly generous for a nation of our size.As you will no doubt have seen in the media, Australia has experienced asignificant increase in irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs).These are people who, for a range of reasons, have left their homes andtravelled to another country – what are called transit countries - mostnotably Indonesia and Malaysia - where they often link with peoplesmugglers for the final leg of the journey, in this case, by boat to Australia.Slide 3People smugglers are individuals or syndicates who demand a fee toarrange boats and crew to bring asylum seekers to Australia.These are not necessarily noble people who want to help others flee frompersecution.These are people who seek to make money from the misery of others, andhistory has shown us that they don’t particularly care whether their clientslive or die.We’re told that people smugglers give assurances to potential asylumseekers – for example, that the journey to Australia is short and simple.It is not. It is a long, dangerous journey on the open ocean, usuallyundertaken in dilapidated fishing boats – not craft designed to take largenumbers of people on an open ocean journey. On the most arrival, morethan 50 people were jammed into a tiny boat with barely inches ofclearance from the water. So packed in, they could not move for the 40hours they were at sea, and that included their ablutions. 2
  3. 3. Let’s be very clear about this.We welcome some 13 750 refugees and humanitarian entrants every year.That number is about to go up to 14 750 following the May 7announcement by the Prime Minister and our Minister.Insofar as people seeking asylum are concerned, either by air or by sea,we understand that they leave their homelands for a range of reasons; it’sclear from research that while persecution is a major factor for peopleseeking asylum, some people also come seeking economic opportunities.Unfortunately for them, these are not grounds for the granting of refugeestatus under the UN Refugee ConventionAsylum seekers must prove a real threat of persecution in their homeland.We seek an end to an evil practice where profiteers prey upon people, givethem false hope, take their money and put their lives and the lives of theirfamilies, at grave risk.Many people have died making this journey and others have needed to berescued to avoid certain death. The journey is highly dangerous andunnecessary, and it comes with no certainty.The people smugglers know for certain that even if the asylum seekerssurvive the dangerous journey by boat, there is no guarantee whatsoeverthat they will achieve the migration outcomes they desire.While the past two years have established a high mark in asylum seekerarrivals by boat in Australia it is by no means the only spike in arrivals inthe last decade or so.Slide 4The period 1999-2001 saw similar numbers of people coming to Australiairregularly by boat: • In 1999, we had 86 boats arrive in Australia carrying 3721 people. 3
  4. 4. • In 2000, 51 boats arrived carrying 2939 people. • In 2001, 43 boats arrived carrying 5516 people.At the time, the department had detention facilities at Villawood in Sydney,Maribyrnong in Melbourne, the Baxter and Woomera facilities in SouthAustralia, and the Port Hedland and Curtin facilities in Western Australia.Slide 5The high number of boat arrivals in this period, and the incident with theTampa vessel, led the government to introduce legislation to excise partsof Australia’s territory from the migration zone, in an attempt to discourageasylum seekers.This was the Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) Bill2001, also known as the Pacific strategy.On 8 February 2008, the Pacific strategy was formally ended by the RuddGovernment. It was decided then that people who were intercepted inboats would be processed at Christmas Island, as they are today.Slide 6We are one of the top three nations per capita who resettle refugees on aannual basis as part of our overall migration program.Fast forward to late 2009/early 2010: the government had been aware oftragic incidences in the past in which people had drowned while attemptingto get to Australia by boat. Boats and people were arriving at anincreasing rate and the government was concerned about furthertragedies.In response, Australia established a whole-of-government approach todiscourage asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat at the hands ofpeople smugglers. 4
  5. 5. This approach targeted potential asylum seekers abroad, and diasporacommunities in Australia who might be likely to fund, encourage ormaterially support family and friends to engage with a people smuggler.Slide 7This strategic communications approach was overseen by the leadagency, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service andincludes the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the AustralianFederal Police, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and theAttorney General’s Department.As the lead agency, Australian Customs and Border Protection isresponsible for all offshore communications in the countries from whichmost asylum seekers departed from and also the transit countries such asMalaysia and Indonesia.The government committed $4 million for a counter people smugglinginformation campaign to address people smuggling at the grassroots levelin source countries, such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, as well as intransit and organising countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.The softer education approach used in this campaign relied on positivemessages designed to reinforce socially acceptable behaviour, andincluded local radio spots which reinforced key messages.The same messages, such as ‘people smuggling is wrong’, were printedon mugs and t-shirts and repeated at prayer sessions and village festivals.Additionally, community liaison officers played a key role interacting withvulnerable communities whose members might be considering engagingwith a people smuggler, seeking to discourage them from jumping aboarda boat.Slide 8As part of this whole of government initiative, my department’s NationalCommunications Branch also undertook a strategic communicationsapproach targeting Sri Lankan, Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan diaspora 5
  6. 6. communities around Australia, targeting them with information andmessages about the risks associated with the long, dangerous andunpredictable boat journey to Australia.The key to the department’s communication messages was to convincethe diaspora communities in Australia of the dangers of the journey and ofusing people smugglers, so that they in turn communicated this to theirfamily and friends overseas considering travelling unlawfully to Australia.The department commissioned specialist research to establish abenchmark in terms of existing knowledge of the laws and the level ofawareness around the challenge we faced with the rising numbers ofirregular maritime arrivals, and then, to test materials for the proposed antipeople smuggling communication activity. Focus groups were conductedin early June 2010.In each group, there were often participants who had themselves usedpeople smugglers in reaching Australia and were later found to berefugees. Interestingly almost to a man and a woman, they told ourresearchers they were vehemently opposed to people smugglers, oftenblaming them for the loss of life of a relative or close friend who had diedat sea in any one of the tragedies which has occurred off Australia’snorthwest coastline.The primary target audience for our messaging was understood to bemigrants and refugees to Australia, with family and friends abroad, butsome secondary audiences were also targeted, including: • All people considering to use or associate with people smugglers • Broader migrant communities in Australia • International communities (as in people abroad) who may acquire the aid of a people smuggler including people from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.The discussions were facilitated in the language of choice of participantsby experienced bi-lingual moderators. 6
  7. 7. Slide 9Once we’d established the levels of existing knowledge among the variouscommunities, we moved to concept testing. The groups were shown anumber of audio and print advertising concepts, including video clips,audio news releases and posters and brochures featuring the themes:…People Smugglers ‘No Guarantee’……People Smuggling ‘Don’t Risk it’…The main message understood by participants was that people smugglingis a criminal (in some countries), serious, dangerous, and a riskyundertaking which can result at worse in death by drowning, or slightly lesspalatable, in the deportation of asylum seekers if they are not found to beowed Australia’s protectionOf the ideas tested, the ‘People Smuggling. Don’t Risk It’ theme resonatedwell and the concept of risk was well understood.The focus groups indicated that the idea was an effective discouragementmessage and ultimately formed the basis of the communications activityundertaken.To use a central message from the material developed, we were urgingpeople to - ‘tell your family, friends and loved ones - don’t risk it... say no topeople smugglers’.Interestingly the concept about “no guarantee” didn’t rate nearly as wellbecause for some cultures, a guarantee – be it for a fridge, a repair, or anew watch – was an alien concept. We take so much for granted.Slide 10The communication materials developed included posters, brochures,FAQs, mocked-up news articles and DVDs in the target languages ofArabic, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, Tamil, Sinhalese and of course English. 7
  8. 8. Given the success of the project hinged on effective communication withoften non-English speaking diaspora communities, we undertook to testthe key messages, taglines and images we’d developed for consideration.Research found that given their previous experiences, the threat ofimprisonment had virtually no impact on those who were considering usingor supporting people smugglers.However, for our target audience, the risk of death, of losing familymembers, being deceived by people smugglers or losing money is muchmore real and much more of a deterrent.Slide 11Images were an important part of the materials the department developed.Artwork developed that depicted asylum seekers behind bars weredeemed by the focus groups to be largely ineffective.Slide 12However, the simulated depiction of an individual in the water and boat inthe distance received a unanimously strong reaction and we adopted it asthe main image for all materials.These images strongly resonated with people who may not necessarily beable to swim, and for whom, the fear of drowning would be very real.This image, when developed as the basis for a video that appeared on theYouTube site, also elicited, predictably, a strong reaction from humanrights organisations and refugee activists.Those critical of the approach suggested that the image riskedtraumatising people who may have lost family and friends in similar tragiccircumstances.Slide 13 8
  9. 9. In an article in the Courier Mail newspaper, Professor Linda Briskman fromCurtin University said she was shocked when she saw the YouTubeChannel.She said the “…campaign is not in the spirit of the refugee convention andit’s giving asylum seekers the wrong message, that they aren’t wanted”.Slide 14On the Crikey website, refugee advocate Pamela Curr criticised thevideos, and particularly the drowning ad.While the department accepted the criticism of the graphic nature of thisimage and the fact it may upset or traumatise people, we did not retreatfrom it - many asylum seekers have previously drowned by undertakingthe journey.Tragically, the loss of life off Christmas Island in December 2010 againhighlighted these very issues and strengthened our resolve to continue tocommunicate the dangers of using a people smuggler to come by boat toAustralia.Testing with ethnic communities continued to throw up challenges in ourcommunication and message development.For example, while the Sri Lankans and Afghans interviewed regardedpeople smugglers as ‘a necessary evil’ and preying on human misery, theviews of the Iraqi participants were very different – they saw the peoplesmugglers as outcasts whom they’d never consider.Slide 15A key element of the communications was the creation of a dedicated noto people smuggling YouTube channel.Slide 16 9
  10. 10. While the primary target was always diaspora communities in Australia,YouTube has no borders or boundaries and of course the videos werebeing watched throughout the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iranand Sri Lanka.The YouTube videos continued to have the desired effect of bothdiscouraging potential irregular maritime arrivals, while stimulating interestand debate. Amnesty International was critical of the department’sYouTube video, ‘The Smuggler’.Slide 17 - visionThey complained to the department that the depiction of those underinvestigation were primarily non-Anglo Saxon, whereas the policeportrayed were largely Anglo-Saxon.The videos have also attracted significant media attention which, while notthe primary outcome we sought, was not an unwelcome byproduct.Another one of our YouTube videos, Left Behind, showed that we couldeffectively convey our key messages to a worldwide audience at little costto the taxpayer.Slide 18 - visionAll production, including on-line management, graphic design and fieldproduction was completed within National Communications Branch.Specialist linguistic services are outsourced on a cost per project basis tothe National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.The crew for this video comprised a Senior Public Affairs Officer asDirector/Producer, a specialised underwater camera operator with awaterproof handi-cam, and a specialised rescue paramedic andsupervising safety officer.Post production was completed in-house. In total, the video cost $2600 tomake. 10
  11. 11. We also produce versions of our clips in language – this is an excerpt ofAli’s Story – the account of an Iraqi boat person in Arabic.Slide 19 - visionIt costs nothing to host the video on YouTube and nothing for peoplearound the world to link the video to their own websites. It has proved aninvaluable tool for conveying vital messages.Slide 20While the target audience of specific ethnic communities in Australia isrelatively small, producing videos and material that pique the interest of themedia and wider community, and perhaps work to stop one moredrowning, or one more wasted $10 000 voyage, or even work to stopanother people smuggler filling his boat with more victims, is worth theeffort we’re putting in to this issue.Here’s an example of an excerpt of a clip with Farsi subtitles.Slide 21 - visionOne of the most critical elements to the success of the communicationactivity was the face-to-face delivery of the messages to the identifiedcommunities.It was never intended the developed materials would just be handed-out –stakeholder engagement and face-to-face discussion and explanation arekey to these messages being understood, and ultimately passed on tofamily and friends overseas considering the use of a people smuggler.The department has a network of community liaison officers based aroundthe country who are engaged in regular stakeholder communication withspecific diaspora communities.Slide 22 11
  12. 12. Since the stat of the year, the ‘People Smuggling, Don’t Risk Itcommunications materials have been distributed to the target diasporacommunities.Quantifying the effectiveness of these messages is inherently very difficult.The distribution and face-to-face explanation of the materials and theirmessages and the qualitative feedback the department receives will gosome way to allowing us to evaluate our activities. We know already thatwe have made inroads with the Sri Lankan communities in Australia – bothTamil and Sinhalese – with a sharp reduction over the last six to 12months in the numbers of Sri Lankan nationals arriving in Australia byboat. Now we also know that the cessation of the civil war in Sri Lankahas undoubtedly had a big influence on the inclination of people to flee bysea, but we also believe the messages being pumped into the diasporacommunities in Australia were playing an important role.Slide 23YouTube also has the capacity to report quantitatively on activity on thedepartment’s dedicated people smuggling channel and we have used thisfeature to track activity.Slide 24What we do know is that the NO to people smuggling channel has reachedmore than 20 000 views, so we know our message is reaching people.It will always be a challenge to accurately quantify how effective ourcampaign has been. We can’t tell you exactly how many people haven’tmade a dangerous boat journey because of the information we’ve giventhem.Nor can we tell you how man lives have been saved. But we can certainlytell you we’ve given information to potential asylum seekers about peoplesmugglers, the journey to Australia and the negative outcomes they face ifnot found to be refugees, and we’ve done it in a multitude of languages,utilising a range of platforms and channels. 12
  13. 13. We hope that equipped with the facts, people will turn away from the evilpractice of people smuggling and instead come to Australia through lawfulmeans.With Refugee Week soon upon us from June 19-25, we’re already in theviral YouTube space with clips about the positive contributions refugeesmake to Australian communities across the land.I hope you enjoy this clip.Slide 25 - visionThank you.Slide 26 13