Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Government) Honours


School of Communications and Arts


Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Genevieve Hohnen


The Australian government currently maintains a strong position against an independent West Papua. Despite claims of human rights abuses by the Indonesian Government in West Papua and the huge number of West Papuan refugees fleeing to Australian shores, the Australian Government continues to tighten foreign policy and migration laws to make it increasingly difficult for West Papuans to seek asylum in Australia and hope for an independent West Papua. When Australia’s humanitarian intervention in the Timor-Leste fight for independence in 1999 is considered, reasons why the Australian government maintains an anti-separatist position towards West Papua are unclear. Australia took a humanitarian approach to forty-two West Papuan refugees arriving on Australian shores in January 2006; however, after the Indonesian Government gave a negative response to this decision, the Australian Government demonstrated a significant shift in its foreign policy-making and international relations. This thesis argues that Australian foreign policies regarding West Papuan independence and refugees shifted from international moral-based decisions to a realist approach after the granting of temporary protection to the forty-two West Papuan refugees in early-2006, and then the introduction of amended migration legislation later that year. The theory of realist international relations will be utilised to analyse Australian Government decisions and policies regarding West Papua during 2006 in order to reach this conclusion.


Thesis Location