Publication Details

Dudek, D. L. (2006). Of Murmels and Snigs: detention-centre narratives in Australian literature for children and young adults. Overland, (185 Summer), 38-42.

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THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S current policy on cultural diversity, ‘Multicultural Australia: United in Diversity’, which is due to be revised later in 2006, opens with a foreword by John Howard in which he “reaffirms the government’s commitment to promoting diversity, understanding and tolerance in all areas of endeavour”. No matter how frequently discourses of tolerance and respect for difference circulate in government policy and elsewhere, however, they continue to be underpinned by an assimilation agenda. Media representations, at least, encourage Australians to demonise individuals according to their race, especially since the global war on terror, and more locally in incidents like the Cronulla riots. The Howard Government’s anti-terror laws and policy of mandatory detention uphold these popularly held conceptions, which they can use as leverage to justify treating asylum seekers outside of mainstream legal protocols.