'Weapons of mass destruction': the health impact of human rights violations in the context of Austalian asylum policies
AbstractOver the past decade, scholars from the disciplines of both public health and law have increasingly acknowledged that health and human rights are inextricably linked. Perhaps most significant in the evolution of the health and human rights paradigm is the recognition that violations of human rights have adverse consequences for health. While this is most apparent in relation to, for example, torture, the empirical evidence for the health impact of other rights violations has, to date, been scarce. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between current Australian asylum policies, which arguably represent human rights violations, and the health and wellbeing of refugees who have been subject to these policies. A mixed-methods study design was undertaken to address the study aim. A comparative cross-sectional survey of 71 Iraqi Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders and 60 Iraqi Permanent Humanitarian Visa (PHV) holders, residing in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, was conducted. A purposive sampling frame was utilised owing to the fact that a random selection of participants was not feasible. Iraqi temporary and permanent refugees surveyed were comparable across key demographic criteria, and were also broadly representative of the wider Iraqi refugee population in the study site, according to available data. The survey included standardised self-report measures assessing psychosocial constructs which were hypothesised to be significant in the experience of TPV holders (e.g. perceived life constraints, social support, and sense of injustice), and health outcomes, both physical and psychological. Socioeconomic stressors were also measured.