SIEV and asylum seeker collection




A collection of approximately 200 items relating to three asylum seeker incidents in 2001: the MV TAMPA rescue, the 'children overboard' affair and the sinking of SIEV X (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel Unknown). The collection includes a lifebuoy and lifejacket from MV TAMPA and photographs documenting the Royal Australian Navy's rescue of asylum seekers in the 'children overboard' affair. The collection also contains artwork, photographs, cartoons, correspondence, pamphlets and banners relating to the SIEV X National Memorial Project and Flotillas of Hope, a convoy of yachts that sailed from Australia in 2004 to deliver gifts to asylum seekers detained on Nauru.

In 2001 increasing numbers of people from Afghanistan and Iraq made asylum-seeking voyages to Australia in unseaworthy boats. In August 2001 the Norwegian cargo ship MV TAMPA rescued 438 Afghan refugees from a sinking fishing boat in international waters but was prevented by the Australian Government from landing them in Australian territory. In early October another refugee boat, SIEV 4, sank after being intercepted by the RAN, which pulled its passengers from the water. This incident generated claims - later shown to be erroneous - that asylum seekers had deliberately thrown children overboard to secure refuge in Australia. In late October the overcrowded fishing boat SIEV X sank en route from Indonesia to the offshore Australian territory of Christmas Island, drowning 353 people, including 146 children. These incidents stirred the full gamut of responses in the Australian community, from compassion and support, to resentment and xenophobia. The SIEV and asylum seeker collection documents this controversial period in recent Australian immigration history, when issues of asylum seekers, boat people and border protection were fervently contested.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


2001-2004; Asylum seekers; Boat people; Border protection; Immigrants; Immigration; People smuggling; Refugee camps; Refugees; Wars

Artworks; Banners; Letters; Pamphlets; Photographs


Coverage Spatial

Afganestan; Iraq; Christmas Island, Australia; Nauru

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40