Australia must urgently review the way that it deals with asylum seekers by looking at models and policies in other countries to inform a new strategic direction. The current criteria for successful migration policy dictates that illegal arrivals are a serious border control issue for the Australian Government. Although current Australian policies have stemmed the flow of ‘boat people’ and are therefore successful according to this criteria, these policies fail numerous other important definitions of success, including positive international relations, multicultural and inclusive communities and adherence to traditional principles of egalitarianism. For example, Australian migration policy breaches international obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, however adept it has proven to be at keeping illegal migrants out of the country. Refugees in regional processing centres, particularly children, are suffering from clinically diagnosed mental health conditions and health care professionals working in immigration detention facilities cannot fulfil their duty to act in their patients’ best interests, nor fulfil the obligations of their employment. A new immigration policy could adequately secure Australian borders, ensure human rights of asylum seekers are upheld, support economic development, improve Australia’s global reputation and set a renewed course for Australian identity.