'Islamisation' and other anxieties: voter attitudes towards asylum seekers

Negative attitudes among Australian voters towards asylum seekers are driven by religious bigotry more than racism or economic anxieties, according to research undertaken by Centre for Advancing Journalism Senior Lecturer Dr Denis Muller and commissioned by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute.

Dr Muller spoke to focus groups in Melbourne, Ballarat, Sydney, Dubbo, Brisbane and Toowoomba about their attitudes towards asylum seekers. The groups were made up of voters from all ages, backgrounds and political leanings.

Dr Muller found that false beliefs, such as bans on singing Christmas Carols and sending Christmas Cards, fuel opposition to asylum seekers.

Despite the presence of these negative views about asylum seekers, these beliefs do not translate to total support for hardline political action.

"Many Australians understand the desperation driving asylum seekers to flee danger and seek a safe, secure future for themselves and their children," Dr Muller said.

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