New Campaign To Stop Illegal Entrants
DIMA Media Release
29 October 1999 - MPS 155/99
A new Overseas Information Campaign aimed at stopping illegal air and boat arrivals to Australia was launched in Sydney today by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock.
"The campaign will see a range of publicity material distributed throughout high risk people smuggling source countries as well as transit countries," said the Minister, "to warn people of the risks associated with trying to enter Australia illegally and the penalties smugglers face.
"We will be sending a clear message that people thinking about undertaking such a trip will fail, will be ruined financially and could even die. We will emphasise that Australia is introducing even tougher penalties for people smugglers."
Mr Ruddock said the campaign would have both an international and domestic focus. On the international front, the campaign will target would-be illegal entrants in high risk source countries, such as China, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Turkey, as well as people smugglers in transit countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
"Campaigns will be tailor made for individual countries to ensure they are culturally appropriate," said the Minister," and include videos, radio news clips, posters and special information kits that will be translated into 12 languages. These items will be distributed to media outlets by DIMA staff on the ground.
"On the domestic front," said the Minister, "I am calling on all Australians to let their friends and relatives know that the message is clear: pay a people smuggler and you'll pay the price.
"People must understand that Australia welcomes migrants - not illegal entrants."
To help migrants in Australia spread the message in their country of origin, Mr Ruddock said four information leaflets had been developed. The leaflets explain what happens to illegal air and boat arrivals, what the Australian Government is doing to stop arrivals, why people must help stop illegal entrants and how they can to do so.
The leaflets have been translated into Chinese (standard), Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia and will be translated into other languages in due course.
Mr Ruddock said the Overseas Information Campaign was just the latest Government initiative aimed at curbing the increase in people arriving illegally in Australia.
"In the last week alone," said the Minister, "we have seen an extra 168 people arrive on our shores.
Mr Ruddock said the launch of the Overseas Information Campaign was yet another opportunity for the Government to remind people of the tough new penalties for people smugglers, such as the recent introduction of 20-year jail terms for traffickers and fines of up to $220,000.
Other recent measures include legislation introducing tests such as fingerprinting and palm recognition, to ascertain the true identity of asylum seekers, and to ensure they do not already have protection elsewhere, or have been refused refugee status overseas.
The Government also recently introduced legislation to give DIMA and Customs officers powers to board and detain boats in international waters suspected of being involved in people smuggling.
"With today's launch," said the Minister, "the Australian Government is sending a clear message that we will do everything in our power to stop smugglers who trade in human cargo. We also want to emphasis that attempting to enter Australia illegally is not worth the risk.
"If you pay a people smuggler then you pay the price when you are sent home to a possible lifetime of debt."