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4/02/2019

Statement on ABC Four Corners reporting

Australia has one of the most generous and well established refugee and humanitarian resettlement programs in the world. Over the past five financial years, more than 72,500 people have been resettled in Australia under the offshore humanitarian program and a further 10,638 people already within Australia were granted permanent protection visas. 

In 2018-19, Australia has allocated 18,750 places to its refugee and humanitarian program.

Each year, the focus of Australia’s Humanitarian Program is reviewed so that it can be responsive to evolving humanitarian situations and changes to the global need for resettlement. For example, in recent years, the Humanitarian Program has particularly focussed on resettling Yazidi women, children and families from Iraq and Syria, many of whom have faced significant trauma, including sexual slavery and physical abuse by ISIS. Since 1 July 2015, 2,738 Yazidis have been granted offshore Humanitarian visas and are now settling in to their new life in Australia.

Australia is one of only a few countries in the world that specifically supports the resettlement of women at risk of victimisation, harassment or serious abuse because of their gender. Australia has a dedicated program for this purpose, the Woman at Risk program. More than 20,500 visas have been granted since the establishment of the Woman at Risk visa in 1989, and in 2017-18, the highest number of women and dependents were granted a woman at risk visa in our history (2,126 people in total). In 2018-19, at least 15 per cent of places have been set aside for the Woman at Risk program, up from a 10 per cent target last year.

In 2017–18 Australia’s offshore Humanitarian Program focused on three priority regions—the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The main groups resettled were:

  • Syrians in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey
  • Iraqis predominantly in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria
  • Refugees from Myanmar in camps along the Thai–Myanmar border, Malaysia and India
  • Afghans in Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia
  • Bhutanese in Nepal
  • Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia located in a number of countries in Africa.

Statistics

Each year, the Department of Home Affairs publishes a report on Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

The report on the 2017-18 program is available here (offshore) and here (onshore). The Department does not routinely release statistics not available in these already comprehensive reports.

Update regarding Airline Liaison Officers

The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force (ABF) play an important role in ensuring all travellers enter Australia through appropriate channels. This activity is not limited to any nationality, race, gender or religion.

Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) do not make decisions on visas or assess protection claims, nor do they have any part in facilitating travel from a host country to an individual’s home country. They provide on-the-spot advice to airlines and local border officials on passengers and whether they meet Australia’s entry requirements.

ALOs are trained to identify individuals attempting to travel to Australia using fraudulent identity and travel documents, and those who are not travelling on the correct visa. In recent years, they have prevented hundreds of travellers of concern and non-genuine visa holders from boarding flights to Australia.

Under international guidelines, if a traveller overseas makes a claim for protection offshore, ALOs would direct these persons to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to the appropriate diplomatic mission(s), or to an appropriate local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

Any traveller who seeks to engage Australia’s protection obligations are subject to a process that confirms their circumstances and whether their reasons for seeking to enter Australia require further consideration against Australia’s non-refoulement obligations, or whether they can be removed to their home country or place of departure, consistent with Australia’s international obligations.