Asylum Discourse in New Zealand: Moral Panic and a Culture of Indifference – Australian Social Work


Recent law changes in New Zealand allowing for the detention of a “mass arrival” of asylum seekers reflect a concerning international rhetoric and associated policy trend in Australia and the United Kingdom towards those seeking asylum. This paper argues that, although the New Zealand public has not (yet) reached a “moral panic” that is prevalent within international contexts, there are concerns about a “culture of indifference” in relation to asylum seekers. By providing a policy analysis about asylum seekers and an examination on the associated discourses utilised in international contexts, this discussion presents the New Zealand context through the process of risk signification. The paper discusses how the social work profession can respond to this culture of indifference through addressing collusion (often through silence) with oppressive asylum policies, the need for stronger advocacy and action, and the associated role of social work education.

SOURCE: Bogen, Rachel & Marlowe, Jay. “Asylum Discourse in New Zealand: Moral Panic and a Culture of Indifference.” Australian Social Work, Vol. 70, 2017 – Issue 1, pp. 104-115

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