The welfare policing of asylum seekers and the ‘politics of death’

Prof. Leanne Weber1

1University Of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

In Australia, a ‘structurally embedded border’ operates in relation to non-citizens through selective denial of access to goods and services, and the incorporation of service-providing agencies into migration policing networks.  The Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) is a good example.  Ostensibly set up to support certain categories of asylum seekers released into the community from mandatory detention, the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) provides minimal financial assistance while subjecting welfare recipients to intensive surveillance.  These developments reflect ‘welfare nationalism’, in which state resources are reserved for citizens, but also serve the instrumental goal of seeking to engineer ‘voluntary’ departures by blocking access to the essential requirements for life. In this paper I draw on findings from interviews with NGOs and service providers in Victoria to discuss the ways in which the SRSS might be conceived more broadly as a system of ‘necropolitics’ – or the ‘politics of death’ – a term attributed to postcolonial theorist Achille Mbembe.


Leanne Weber is Professor of Criminology in the Canberra Law School at the University of Canberra, Australia and a Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology, Oxford University. She researches policing and border control using criminological and human rights frameworks. Her books include Crime, Justice and Human Rights, 2014 (Palgrave, with Elaine Fishwick and Marinella Marmo); Policing Non-Citizens, 2013 (Routledge); Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context, 2013 (Routledge, with Ben Bowling); and Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier, 2011 (Palgrave, with Sharon Pickering), awarded the Christine M Alder Book Prize by the ANZ Society of Criminology.


Dec 10 2021