Refugee resettlement to Australia: what are the facts?
Posted 11/01/2012 by Elibritt Karlsen
Of the 145 States Parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention
, only about 25 participate in the United Nations resettlement program
and accept quotas of refugees on an annual basis. Australia has been involved in the UN resettlement program since 1977. The annual number of places Australia has allocated for the resettlement of refugees from overseas has varied significantly over the years, ranging from 20 000 in the early 1980s to just over 1 000 some ten years later.
However, Australia has consistently ranked as one of the top three resettlement countries in the world and for the last five years the Government has allocated around 6000 places for refugees (out of a total 13 750 places available under its 'Humanitarian Program') to be resettled to Australia from overseas.
Last year about 30 000 refugee visa applications to Australia were lodged overseas but only 6000 visas were granted to refugees and their immediate family members awaiting resettlement. More than 3000 of these visas were granted for the resettlement of refugees and their families from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan. In comparison, about 5000 visas were granted to refugees that had arrived in Australia by boat or plane.
In recent times some politicians (past and present), academics, interest groups, prominent Australians, and former senior officials with the Department of Immigration have called on the Government to permanently increase Australia’s annual humanitarian intake to between 20 000 and 25 000.
This new Parliamentary Library Background Note, Refugee resettlement to Australia: what are the facts?
explains how Australia’s resettlement program operates, focussing in particular on areas that are not well understood and/or are controversial. For example, it examines:whether there is a resettlement ‘queue’whether Australia only takes people from refugee campshow many refugees are resettled to Australia each yearhow Australia’s refugee intake compares to other resettlement countries and to its overall permanent migrant intakewhether refugees arriving spontaneously at the border (whether by boat or plane) take the places of refugees overseas, andAustralia’s contribution to resettlement of refugees from transit countries in the immediate region, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
21/01/2014 3:36 PM
Thank you for producing a very informative fact sheet. I have just one question. On pp 9-10, you write that onshore arrivals do not take the place of other refugees because irrespective of how many onshore arrivals there are, the annual quota for Convention refugees remains at 6000. While one place is deducted from the SHP quota, you write that the remainder of this program is for immediate family members of onshore refugees and other family members of refugees resettled from overseas (plus humanitarian entrants) but NOT Convention refugees. However, would not these family members of onshore and resettled refugees also likely be Convention refugees who might be waiting for resettlement? Or does the SHP quota strictly exclude Convention refugees (apart from those who arrive onshore)? I hope you can follow what I mean! Thanks.
21/01/2014 3:36 PM
Great. Thank you very much for the clarification. I don't suppose there are any figures available for the number of those resettled via the SHP who are Convention refugees? In any case, I imagine the vast majority of those coming through the SHP, even if recognised refugees, would not have been referred by the UNHCR for resettlement? I'm assuming this because only a fraction of the world's refugees are eligible for resettlement anyway?
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