Frequently Asked Questions

The Mess We’re In Website

Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: How did you come to write the book?

I wrote the book I wanted to read.

A book which lays out, as objectively as possible, all the relevant information, considerations and options regarding the refugee crisis to allow the reader to form their own, educated view. A book following the well-worn business path used to allow managers to make difficult decisions, where there is no obvious right answer, rather a series of trade-offs that need to be communicated  clearly so that the pros and cons of each option is understood.

More detail is provided in the Genesis of the book section of this site.



Q: What expertise do you have in writing the book?

I have expertise in the methodology use rather than the relevant subjects themselves.

My expertise is in structuring and summarising relevant information into a digestible format to enable readers to quickly understand all the relevant aspects of complex scenarios relating to an area they may not be very familiar with.

This is formed from 15 years of experience as a Management Consultant doing exactly this for business scenarios. The same methodology was used in writing the book.

  • Situation: Research all relevant areas, create a structure to best communicate the state of the issue with all relevant data.
  • Complication: Summarise existing issues that need to be addressed.
  • Question(s): List the questions that need to be answered. These should resolve some or all of the complications. For the refugee crisis, this requires answering a set of moral questions to define the society that should be sought.
  • Options: List and detail the known options to consider. Review these options through a consistent and structured methodology.
  • Recommendation: Provide and justify a recommendation based on the option review.

I do not have any expertise in the relevant areas required to fully understand this issue. These include Human Rights Law and refugee advocacy, sovereignty, demography and population, culture, immigration, and economics. However, the breadth of relevant topics to these issues means that it is very unlikely for one person to possess of the requisite skills. Thus I found that this issue lends itself very will to the management consulting approach.


Q: Did you speak with any refugees?

Unfortunately I was not able to speak with any refugee about the development of my book. This was not through a lack of trying. I explored many avenues, formal and informal to discuss with refugees their experience. I came to learn that many refugees are reluctant to speak of their stories for very good reason. Example reasons include fear of recrimination crimes committed to them or their loved ones in their country of origin, not wanting to re-live a painful experience, not wanting to threaten their chance of permanent protection or a successful life in their new country.

To ensure that I developed some sort of understanding of the perspective of refugees I read their published stories including Raised in Conflict by Essan Dilerri, The People Smuggler by Robin De Crespigny, From Nothing to Zero complied by Meaghan Amor and Janet Austin and Lives in Limbo by Michael Leach and Fethi Mansouri.


Q: How did you do your research?

I did all the research myself utilising three areas.

  1. Books, Doctorates and other published works. There is a wealth of books written on refugees, migration, economics, demographics and culture. There was no shortage of material to choose from. I took great care to select balanced books that provided a broad overview.
  2. Internet including articles, reports from relevant organisations such as the UN, and interviews, debates and talks available on you-tube. The UN and UNHCR provided an enormous amount of information, as does the Australian Parliament and research bodies like the Pew Research Centre and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  3. Interviews and conversations with relevant experts including refugee advocates, academics, legal experts and politicians.

Once the first set of research was conducted and a broad outline of the book was created – in particular the framing the chapters around a refugee’s journey – the research requirement flowed on naturally. The majority of the research was conducted over the seven months it took to complete the first draft of the book. Targeted research was done over the subsequent eleven months to publication.



Q: Is the information getting out of date?

The book was drafted in 2015 and early 2016. As such, much of the information was taken from data as of late 2014 and 2015. Certainly much has happened since then, in terms of refugee numbers and policies undertaken by countries looking to help. For instance, since the writing of the book:

  • The flow of asylum seekers into Europe has continued.
  • Many European countries have significantly tightened their borders and the UK has voted to leave the EU.
  • The operational aspects of Manus Island have changed and Australia is looking finalise a deal with the USA to take refugees remaining on Manus Island and Nauru.

Although specifics around current numbers and governmental policies have altered to some extent, the overall history, issues and policy considerations have not changed at all. As such, the book remains relevant to all interested readers.


Q: What part does Trump play on the refugee situation?

The rise of Donald Trump in the USA through his successful presidential campaign and time in office has brought some broad based attention to some of the issues relating to large scale immigration and immigration controls covered in this book.

The debate generated by policies proposed by his office highlight the inherent trade-offs. For example, the proposed ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries highlighted the trade-off between human rights covered by international law and the fears held by many people in western societies regarding security in bringing in a large number of people who potentially hold negative view toward their countries.


Q: What part does religion play on the refugee situation?

Religion does play a part in the refugee situation. Most noticeably in that Western culture has a base in Judeo-Christian values (softened though the secularisation of the Western world) and many immigrants and refugees (particularly to Europe) are from theocratic Islamic states. Aspects around religion considered in the book include:

  • Whether (and if so, how so) Islam is compatible with Western culture.
  • Does multiculturalism have specific limitations, are their some aspects of culture that are non-negotiable?
  • Can non-negotiable aspects of culture be protected in a democratic state, or does the majority rule count? For instance, if the majority of a nation wish for Sharia law, should and would this be provided?


Q: Were you affected by fake news?

I took many steps to ensure that key pieces of information were sourced from reputable organisations and ratified by other publications. However, to some extent everyone if vulnerable to fake news, even the sources I took comfort in as being “reputable”.

The book contains extensive reference notes in order to be as transparent as possible regarding the information sources. In the vast majority of instances, they are published books, peer reviewed journals or articles from major newspaper and news outlets.