It is often useful to think about organisational and social problems in terms of the language of stocks and flows which work rather like a bathtub with inflows ( the tap), accumulations (the bath tub) and outflows (the plug hole).
If we apply this thinking to the refugee situation we have a very simple diagram shown below.
Here, refugees arrive ( the inflow), they remain in detention (the accumulation) and they are processed (the outflow). The increase in refugees in detention is a result of the arrivals outstripping those that are processed. There are two ways around this: decrease the rate of arrivals or increase the processing. Both of these will lead to a decrease in the numbers of refugees in detention.
Both solutions have inherent problems. The difficulty in stopping the boats has been outlined in the press recently. It is highly likely that the Indonesian government would not cooperate with this policy. Increasing the rate at which refugees are processed also has inherent difficulties because of the feedback that exists between processing and arrivals. This feedback is shown by the red arrow.
News about the increased processing is fed into the network and increases the arrival rate.
The solution does not lie in changes that can make be made to this particular structure.
The solution lies somewhere else and is shown in the third diagram
This diagram adds the legal entry process for refugees. News about these applicants has a feedback effect to the arrivals of the so-called illegal immigrants. If the rate at which legitimate applicants are processed increases, then we can expect the rate at which the illegal immigrants seek to arrive by boat to decrease with a consequent decrease in the numbers of people held in offshore detention centres.
This solution will not decrease in the refugees coming to by boat but it will decrease the refugees held in detention centres.