Australia’s International and Domestic Borders as Sites of Dislocation, Division and Distrust: The Socio-Political Impacts of COVID-19 Travel Bans



In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia deployed some of the strictest border controls in the world. Aus-tralia’s international and domestic travel restrictions and border closures were introduced to save lives and protect health by preventing or reducing the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, early research indicates that the rigid man-ner in which they were implemented and the length of time for which they continued contributed to loss of life, led to the onset and exacerbation of serious medical conditions and plunged some people into poverty or extreme finan-cial distress. In this article, we take these observations further by drawing on transitional justice scholarship to sug-gest that public accounts written by people affected by these border restrictions indicate a deeper national malaise. Consistent themes in these public accounts indicate erosion of trust in government, a sense of betrayal by public authorities, a feeling of disconnection from fellow Australians and a sense of no longer having a ‘home’. We argue that these tropes mirror findings on the consequences of displacement in transitional justice studies and indicate the need for a process and period of healing and reconciliation once the nation emerges out of the pandemic. We con-clude by outlining the potential role of a ‘people’s inquiry’ in fostering these outcomes.


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How to Cite
Simic O, Ogg K. Australia’s International and Domestic Borders as Sites of Dislocation, Division and Distrust: The Socio-Political Impacts of COVID-19 Travel Bans. LiC [Internet]. 2023Mar.9 [cited 2024Jun.17];38(1). Available from:

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