Academic and Kayaker to circle Christmas Island, Ashmore Reef

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130

Academic and Kayaker to circle Christmas Island, Ashmore Reef

Media Release
Thursday July 26, 2007 10:15am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"La Trobe University Researcher Dr David Corlett, who previously researched and tracked the fate of those asylum seekers deported by Australia, has teamed up with Simon Keenan, who previously travelled the length of the Murray River by kayak, in order to paddle Australia's "forbidden zone" for asylum seekers, as well as move in other significant areas in the vicinity of Australia's detention centres," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"Tomorrow morning the two men will briefly stop over in Perth, Western Australia, before boarding, together with their sea kayaks, a flight to Christmas Island, where they will 'Paddle The Excision Zone', around Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef, as well as the maritime area off the coast of Derby, in an attempt to highlight what they see as 'one of the key outstanding issues in Australia's response to asylum seekers'.

(Relevant online resources linked below)

Project SafeCom will host the two men when they return from Christmas Island in an event at Fremantle's Kulcha Multicultural Arts of WA (1st Fl, 13 South Terrace, 5 August, 3:00pm) for an expose of their kayaking project with music provided by two Perth rock bands.

Simon Keenan in his Paddling for Asylum Seekers and Refugees project, previously took to the Murray River in an epic 2,226 km, 116 day solo kayak journey, raising $22,000 for organisations that assist asylum seekers living in the Australian community.

The two men write on their website:

"Asylum seekers who are found in the excised zone can be forcibly transferred to Nauru or elsewhere where their applications for protection are assessed in a system without an independent appeals mechanism and which is not subject to judicial oversight. Nor do such people have a right to independent legal advice. There is compelling evidence that this system has led to the return of asylum seekers to situations where their human rights have been violated. Some have been killed. Those asylum seekers found to be refugees have no right to be resettled in Australia or any other country and can wait for extended periods of time in limbo while their resettlement is negotiated between governments. Excision and its denial of access to Australian territory and the onshore protection determination process remains one of the key outstanding issues in Australia's response to asylum seekers."

Relevant online resources:

Paddling for Refugees:

Paddle The Excision Zone Event in Fremantle:

David Corlett's Following Them Home: The Fate of the Returned Asylum Seekers:

Details David Corlett:

Dr Corlett has documented deported asylum-seekers' experiences in a book titled Following Them Home, published in Melbourne by Black Inc. The book succeeds the 2004 Quarterly Essay Sending Them Home - a critique of the conditions of Australian asylum seekers in detention and on temporary protection visas - which Dr Corlett researched and jointly wrote with La Trobe academic and author Professor Robert Manne.

The field-work and impending publication of Following Them Home are the second tranche of a three-year research project on asylum-seekers funded by an ARC linkage grant, the Myer Foundation, the Don Chipp Foundation and the Reichstein Foundation. Dr Corlett has worked with asylum seekers and refugees as a case-worker and researcher and completed a doctoral thesis on Australia's response to asylum seekers in 2003.

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

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