The ‘Seeking Asylum Project’

by Allan Shafer

I first proposed the ‘Seeking Asylum Project’ to the members of Group Relations Australia (GRA) in 2013 in the context of disturbing policies about refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat. Those policies had been implemented by the Australian government at the time and by past governments. I was mindful of the fact that GRA has as the second of its organisational aims: ‘to play a socially responsible role, taking up, wherever appropriate and within scope of the organisation’s purpose, current issues in society’. The dynamics of ‘seeking asylum’ demanded, I felt, such attention. It seemed an important way our organization could contribute to the good of Australian
and other societies through our field – framed by group relations, socioanalysis, and systems psychodynamics thinking. In particular we hoped it would open up opportunities for fresh dialogue on these pressing matters.

I have long held the conviction that the frameworks and ways of thinking and working
that the long history of group relations work have produced, could and should be applied beyond application to organizational dynamics and leadership. They have provided us – as has psychoanalysis – with a valuable lens with which to observe, understand, and intervene in our societies. The project that emerged – with its multiple sub-projects – has explored the issues of seeking asylum in all its manifestations in fascinating personal ways and culminated in a special issue of our international journal and culminated in a special issue of our international journal,  Socioanalysis  on ‘Seeking Asylum’.

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