‘Boat People’ in Australia: Press, Policy and Public Opinion

Bridget Holtom


Australia’s postcolonial tendency to control its borders and regulate the ‘Other’ underpins the politicisation of the ‘boat people’ phenomenon. This paper explores how asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are represented in the press and excluded through policy, and how this exclusion is further embedded in public opinion. The research on which this paper is based comprised a content analysis of newspaper articles relating to boat arrivals and the undertaking of qualitative focus groups. The analysis aims to contribute to existing literature by situating political, public and media debates of asylum policy within a broader framework of migration in Australia.


Boat people; refugees; public opinion; press

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