PhD student Robyn Sampson presents study

Over the past 20 years heavy use of detention centres to control migrant entry into Australia has become a national issue. However, La Trobe University PhD student Robyn Sampson, has found through her doctoral studies that ‘there are alternatives’ in preventing unnecessary immigration detention and has been invited to present her findings at an international roundtable in Geneva.

LaRRCThe ‘Global Roundtable on Alternatives to Detention of Asylum-Seekers, Refugees, Migrants and Stateless Persons’  will begin on Wednesday 11 May where the handbook ‘There are alternatives: A handbook for preventing unnecessary immigration detention’ will be officially launched in front of representatives from international organisations, human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, governments and national and international non-governmental organisations. 

The three day discussion will include ways to examine practical aspects of alternatives to immigration detention, exchange practical advice, draw and share lessons from the latest research and identify areas for cooperation and the establishment of specialised partnerships. 

Ms Sampson will present suggested alternatives to detention which has been defined as any legislation, policy or practice that allows for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to reside in the community with freedom of movement while their migration status is being resolved or while awaiting deportation or removal from the country.

Professor Sandy Gifford Director of La Trobe’s Refugee Research Centre (LaRRC) and one of the supervisors of Ms Sampson’s doctoral research says these recommendations will contribute to governments finding cost-effective and humane ways of managing asylum seekers and refugees.

‘This cutting-edge research is being internationally recognised as a very significant step towards improving international policy and practice in the area of refugee and asylum detention,’ Professor Gifford says.

Before Ms Sampson makes her way to Geneva she will attend a two day conference in Vilnius, Lithuania which is part of a project called ‘Steps to Freedom: Monitoring detention and promoting alternatives to detention of asylum seekers in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic’.  The conference will include a trip to visit a detention centre and an asylum seeker reception centre in Lithuania.

‘There are alternatives’ has already received support from over 25 experts saying it’s a very useful handbook with concrete suggestions where the government would not be able to argue that alternatives do not exist.

This international handbook is a collaboration between the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and LaRRC.  Ms Sampson was assisted by Grant Mitchell and Lucy Bowring with the writing of the report and Professor Sandy Gifford and Dr Ignacio Correa-Velez supervised her study.

For a copy of the handbook please visit the LaRRC site:
Or contact:

Meghan Lodwick
La Trobe University Communications Officer
T: 03 9479 5353 E: