Australia and Refugees, 19012002: An Annotated Chronology Based on Official Sources

Chronologies ONline

Social Policy Group

Dr Barry York - Social Policy Group

Last updated 16 June 2003

This Chronology is issued electronically. It will be kept up-to-date online. The date of the latest update is noted clearly above.


Part 8 of 10

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Chronology 2002

 

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Source Documents

2002

On 22 January, Minister Ruddock pays tribute to Mr. Neville Roach AO, who retires from the positions of Chair of the Council for Multicultural Australia and Chair of the Business Advisory Council on Migration. The Minister says Mr. Roach has 'an exemplary record in developing and promoting Australian multiculturalism and business migration in Australia'. Mr Roach retires as a protest against the Federal Government's 'hard line and inflexible' position on asylum seekers.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 5/2002, 22 January 2002

J. Davies, 'Adviser quits over Howard's asylum policy', The Age, 23 January 2002

2002

On 22 January, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs responds to allegations reported in the media by Dr. Michael Dudley, who visited Woomera detention centre on 7 January with a group of detainee legal advisers. Dr. Dudley, who chairs Suicide Prevention Australia and heads the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal Australian College of Psychiatry, claims that conditions at Woomera are 'akin to concentration camps'. He says there is 'a tendency to use coercive management strategies tear gas, room-trashings, children being put in solitary confinement, being separated from their parents, being stood out in the hot sun'. The Department rejects the claims, pointing out that Dr. Dudley only had access to the administration block and its bathroom facility during his visit. In replying to several points, the Department says there are 'individual management plans designed to meet the specific needs in education and social development' of unaccompanied minors in detention and there is no solitary confinement for children.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 5/2002, 22 January 2002 (Note: the DPS is mistakenly dated 22 February)

K. Lawson, 'Ruddock warns rights officials', Canberra Times, 23 January 2002

2002

About a quarter of the detainees in Woomera detention centre are on hunger strike as of 22 January. Of 830 detainees, 202 are on the strike, and 64 of them have sewn their lips together. Eighteen are undergoing treatment for dehydration in the facility's medical centre. Four of these have lips sewn. Three others are in hospital.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 5/2002, 22 February 2002

2002

In light of protests at Woomera detention centre which involve adults and some children sewing their lips together, Minister Ruddock announces that five unaccompanied minors will be removed for protection from 'the coercion of other adult detainees'. A further seven children are the subject of child abuse notifications, under the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs' Memorandum of Understanding with the South Australian Department of Human Services. South Australia's Human Services Minister, Dean Brown, says he is disgusted by the level of abuse adults had brought upon children at the centre.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 7/2002, 23 January 2002

Joint statement with Dean Brown, South Australian Human Services Minister

2002

In the final week of January, a group of 180 asylum seekers is transferred from Christmas Island to Manus Island and Nauru. Forty go to Nauru. The group includes people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. There are now only 34 detainees remaining on Christmas Island.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 6/2002, 1 February 2002

2002

An agreement to combat people smuggling is signed by Minister Ruddock and Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sar Kheng. The new agreement strengthens 'cooperative efforts in regional fora' and continues 'joint cooperative activities designed to build expertise and provide assistance for the immigration work of both countries'. The agreement is signed during Ruddock's visit to Cambodia and Japan and Laos for discussions on the topic.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 10/2002, 8 March 2002

2002

The Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia, is held at Bali, Indonesia, from 2628 February. Thirty-eight countries, mainly of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions, are represented, with an additional 15 mainly European governments in attendance as observers. Several international organisations also attend, including the UNHCR and IOM. The Ministerial Conference agrees to enhance the struggle against people smuggling by developing more effective information and intelligence sharing, improving cooperation of law-enforcement agencies and improving cooperation on border and visa systems, increasing public awareness with a view to discouraging those considering illegal movement, enhancing the effectiveness of return as a strategy to deter illegal migration through the conclusion of appropriate arrangements and cooperating in verifying the identity and nationality of illegal migrants.

Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, Co-Chairs' Statement, 28 February 2002

2002

On 28 February, the Australian Government establishes the position of Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues to Australia, within the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador is responsible for 'promoting a coherent and effective international approach to combating people smuggling, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, and to assist as appropriate in the negotiation of high level return, readmission and resettlement arrangements'. The Ambassador is Mr. John Buckley, who is also Australia's Ambassador to the Philippines.

The Hon. Alexander Downer MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Media Release, FA27, 28 February 2002

2002

On 12 March, Minister Ruddock announces that a permanent immigration reception and processing centre will be built on Christmas Island.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 011/2002, 12 March 2002

2002

The six millionth post-War migrant arrives in Australia on 18 March. Minister Ruddock welcomes Cristina Jurado, her husband Karlo and their two children at Sydney International Terminal. The family is from the Philippines.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 012/2002, 18 March 2002

2002

On 21 March, Parliament passes the Migration Legislation Amendment (Transitional Movement) Bill 2002. The legislation allows for failed asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus, Papua New Guinea, to be brought to Australia and held in detention while arrangements are made for their transit to another country. Such cases may apply for a review by the RRT, but only if they have cooperated with efforts to return them and have been in continuous detention in Australia for more than six months.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 16/2002, 21 March 2002

2002

On 25 March, Minister Ruddock invites East Timorese asylum seekers, who have been in Australia since September 1999, to provide additional information in support of their claims, so that decision making can proceed. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has several hundred applications from East Timorese and these cover about 1700 people.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 19/2002, 25 March 2002

2002

Minister Ruddock and the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, condemn the actions of protest groups who converge at Woomera over the Easter weekend. The 500 protestors tear down the centre's perimeter fence and assist some detainees to escape. In all, 50 asylum seekers escape and 28 protestors are arrested.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 22/2002, 30 March 2002

'14 escapees still on run from Woomera', The Australian, 1 April 2002

2002

On 19 April, a group of about 100 detainees at Curtin detention centre intentionally light fires and damage buildings and destroy equipment provided for them. They also throw rocks at staff, injuring five. There are 340 detainees at Curtin.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 23/2002, 20 April 2002

2002

A group of 150 detainees at Port Hedland detention centre engage in violent protest activity, damaging property and throwing concrete at staff. A group of 20 to 30 arm themselves with iron bars and a sledge hammer. The protest begins after a detainee is injured and hospitalised after falling from a tree. The man climbed the tree as a protest gesture because he did not have an opportunity to meet a visiting delegation, which included the Opposition Spokesperson on Immigration, Julia Gillard.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 24/2002, 24 April 2002

2002

The Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program planned for 20022003 is the largest and most highly skilled in over a decade, with a target between 100 000 and 110 000 places. The Skill Stream is targeted at 60 700 places and the Family Stream at 43 200 places. The Government decides to maintain the Program at that level for each of the next four financial years.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 30/2002, 7 May 2002

2002

The planned Humanitarian Program for 20022003 remains at 12 000 new places, which includes 4000 places set aside for refugees resettled from offshore. The offshore component includes any asylum seekers accepted by Australia from the processing centres of Nauru, Manus Island and Cocos Keeling and Christmas Island. About 6000 places are for the Special Humanitarian Program and a notional 2000 places are set aside for onshore cases. Priority remains in the regions of Africa, the Middle East and South West Asia.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 31/2002, 7 May 2002

2002

In Kabul, Minister Ruddock signs an agreement with the Interim Administration of Afghanistan on the return of refugees and asylum seekers. More than three quarters of a million Afghans have returned to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries, including about 600 000 under the auspices of the UNHCR.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 34/2002, 17 May 2002

2002

In May, Minister Ruddock announces a series of measures relating to border protection in the 20022003 Budget. He says 'The Budget focuses on removing some of the "push factors" from source countries as well as bolstering international efforts to deter illegal travel'. The Budget provides additional funding to assist the Afghan Interim Authority with the reintegration of Afghan returnees, a total of $5.8 million over three years in personal reintegration assistance for asylum seekers who volunteer to go home, $4 million a year to assist transit countries in the detection and interception of illegal people movement, and up to $14.4 million a year to support international organisations responsible for detaining, processing and removing illegal migrants in transit countries.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 32/2002, un-dated, 2002

2002

The 20022003 Budget allocates $129.3 million for offshore processing of unauthorised boat arrivals at offshore locations in third countries and $81.9 million for offshore processing at Christmas Island and, 'if necessary', Cocos Island. A total of $153.7 million over two years is allocated for construction of the reception and processing centre on Christmas Island, plus $34.4 million in commissioning and operating expenses over four years.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 33/ 2002, un-dated (May), 2002

2002

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and the Australian Federal Police present a 'landmark course' for 'front line immigration and law enforcement personnel' in the Pacific region. The course is convened at the Pacific Islands Forum's Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, and runs from 20 May to 31 May and 27 May to 7 June. The course aims to 'provide local staff with enhanced skills to more easily detect and deter illegal immigrants and the criminal element associated with their movement through the region'. Participants in the course include representatives of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, American Samoa, and Nauru.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 36/2002, 20 May 2002

2002

In May, the Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace releases its report, Damaging kids, which is based on an analysis of documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. The report reveals 264 cases of 'self-harm' in detention centres over the previous eight months, including 29 children and people younger than 20. The report accuses the Federal Government of 'psychological child abuse'. Minister Ruddock responds by saying that, while such incidents are taken seriously, the number of incidents is not as large as appears because separate incidents involving the one person are counted. He says that most cases are 'of a minor nature and no medical treatment was required'. He also points out that he has made the public aware that there have been incidents of self-harm as part of some detainees' efforts to place the Government under duress. More than 9000 individuals had passed through detention centres during the eight month period. Twenty reports relate to detainees under the age of 18.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 37/2002, 21 May 2002

S. Carbone and K. Taylor, 'Report slams detention of children', The Age, 22 May 2002

2002

A reintegration package to assist Afghan asylum seekers who volunteer to return to Afghanistan is announced by Minister Ruddock on 23 May. The package includes cash assistance of $2000 per adult or child, or up to $10 000 for a family unit. The Minister says the package is 'estimated to be worth up to five years' annual income for the average Afghan'. To be eligible, Afghans must have arrived in Australia, Nauru or Christmas Island on or before 16 May, the date of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Afghanistan's Interim Government. The package is offered to Afghans in detention in Australia who have been found not to be refugees, or who are still awaiting a decision, and to Afghans in Nauru who are being assessed or who have received a negative decision. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs also provides a range of support services to them, through the International Organisation for Migration, such as counselling, air travel, vocational training and transport from Kabul to other locations in Afghanistan.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 38/2002, 23 May 2002

2002

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs makes a submission to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, being conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Minister Ruddock says the detailed submission is made to 'clearly show Australia meets its duty of care to those in detention, including children, and has a continuous record of improvement, especially in the areas of health, education and recreational programs'. The HREOC report is expected to be finalised and tabled in Parliament in the first quarter of 2003.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 40/2002, 29 May 2002

2002

On 30 May, the reintegration package for Afghans who voluntarily return home is extended to non-Afghans currently accommodated on Manus Island and Nauru. Essentially, the package offers $2000 per adult or child and up to $10 000 for a family unit. It only applies to asylum seekers who have been found not to be refugees or who are awaiting a decision.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 42/2002, 30 May 2002

2002

Minister Ruddock challenges the credibility of the visiting United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, saying that it is taking at face value claims about detainee suicides made by 'advocacy groups'. The Minister says the groups claim there have been six suicides but, he says, 'While it is regrettable that anyone has died, to date there have been seven deaths in detention but there have been no coronial findings that any of the deaths were as a result of suicide'.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 46/2002, 7 June 2002

2002

On 7 June, new regulations extend the area of excised offshore places from the migration zone. The new excised places are: the Coral Seas Islands Territory, all islands in the far north of Queensland (north of latitude 120 southessentially the Torres Strait islands), all islands forming part of the Northern Territory and all Western Australia islands north of latitude 230 south.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 45/2002, 7 June 2002

2002

In June, Minister Ruddock reminds refugees who were granted the first lot of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs), issued in November 1999, that their TPVs expire in November. They must either apply for another protection visa or leave Australia at the end of their TPVs.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 47/2002, 11 June 2002

2002

A new highly specialised document examination laboratory is opened at the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs' Sydney offices in June. The Document Examination Service is now better equipped to examine the authenticity of a range of documents submitted to Immigration officials, including passports and visas.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 53/2002, 21 June 2002

2002

The Migration Legislation Amendment (Procedural Fairness) Bill 2002 passes through Parliament on 28 June. The Bill inserts a number of sections which emphasise that certain provisions are 'an exhaustive statement of the requirements of the natural justice hearing rule' and in this way the legislation prevents failed asylum seekers from appealing against decisions on the grounds of a breach of natural justice. This pursues the Government's objective of reducing scope for appeal to the Federal Court. Minister Ruddock says the changes 'remove the uncertainty which has enabled unsuccessful visa applicants to bring confused arguments to the courts for the purpose of delaying their departure from Australia'.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 59/2002, 28 June 2002

2002

On 27 June, a night-time raid on Woomera detention centre by a small group of protestors in cars results in the escape of 35 rejected asylum seekers. Prior to the escapes, there were 215 people in Woomera. Of that population, seven are awaiting a primary decision on their application for asylum, 18 are seeking review of a negative decision by the RRT, six have received decisions from the RRT, 85 have claims before the courts and 99 are awaiting removal.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 58/2002, 28 June 2002

2002

In response to claims by detainees staging a hunger strike in protest at delays in the processing of asylum claims at Woomera detention centre, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs says that of the 177 detainees at Woomera, as of 5 July, only six are waiting for a primary decision and these are 'subject to security or criminal record checks'. Of the others: 95 are awaiting removal, having gone through the application process; 54 are before the courts, five are awaiting a finding from the Refugee Review Tribunal and 17 are before the RRT. A spokesperson for DIMIA says, 'The majority of the applications have been rejected and the detainees have been found not to be refugees. Their detention is being prolonged through their own actions in appealing the negative decisions'.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 44/2002, 5 July 2002

2002

Guided tours of the new Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing Centre near Port Augusta, South Australia, attract 375 visitors on 11 July.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 63/2002, 12 July 2002

2002

On 19 July, two brothers, Montazar and Alamdar Baktiari, who escape from Woomera detention centre and unsuccessfully seek asylum at the British Consulate in Melbourne, are reunited with their mother at the centre. Minister Ruddock says of the case that the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs had issued a notice of intent to cancel their father's Temporary Protection Visa on 12 April, 'on the grounds that he was actually a Pakistani national who had been working as a plumber in Pakistan, not an Afghan national as he claimed'. The father arrived in Australia, without his family, in October 1999 and was granted the TPV in August 2000.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 66/2002, 19 July 2002

'Adventures aplenty but no thrills in short lives', The Canberra Times, 21 July 2002

2002

The first group of Afghans to accept the Australian Government's reintegration package return to Afghanistan. The group of seven men had been in detention in Australia for between two and three years. The package provides $2000 per adult, plus support services in Afghanistan.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 67/2002, 22 July 2002

2002

Australia's Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program for 20012002 is the largest and most skilled in a decade. The program outcome is 93 080 places, of which 53 520 (or 58 per cent) are in the Skill Stream. The Family Stream achieves 38 090 places.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 68/2002, 24 July 2002

2002

The Humanitarian Program for 20012002 results in the granting of 12 349 visas, of which 4160 are offshore refugee places, 4258 Special Humanitarian Program places, 3885 onshore places, 40 Special Assistance Category places and six temporary humanitarian concern visas. Most of the onshore places are temporary protection visas (3137). The remainder (748) are permanent protection visas. The regional focus of the Humanitarian Program has shifted during the 1990s from South-East Asia, Central America and Europe to Africa, the Middle East and South-West Asia.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 68/2002, 24 July 2002

2002

On 26 July, a small group of Woomera detainees object to staff conducting a routine accommodation search. The search uncovers home-made weapons, including metal bars and sling shots.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 49/2002, 31 July 2002

2002

On 30 July, four Sri Lankans are sentenced in Perth District Court to three-and-a-half to five years imprisonment for people smuggling offences under the Migration Act. The four were involved in the arrival of a boat carrying 71 unlawful non-citizens on Cocos Islands in September 2001.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 53/2002, 5 August 2002

2002

Justice Prafullachandra Bhagwati, the Personal Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights releases the report, Human rights and immigration detention in Australia, following his visit to Australia in May and June. The report finds that the human rights situation in detention centres is a matter of serious concern. Minister Ruddock, in a joint statement with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, rejects the report as 'fundamentally flawed' and lacking in objectivity.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 71/2002, 31 July 2002

'UN envoy criticises mandatory detention', The Canberra Times, 1 August 2002

2002

The first group of refugees from the Manus Island processing centre arrive in Australia on 30 July. The 42 refugees comprise a man, 13 women and 28 children. Most of the group have immediate family members (spouse or parent) in Australia. They are granted three-year temporary protection visas, as people 'who have abandoned or by-passed effective protection in a country of first asylum and travelled to another country to seek a preferred migration option'.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 70/2002, 30 July 2002

2002

In August, Minister Ruddock visits several countries in Africa and Europe to discuss their efforts against people smuggling and to brief their governments on Australia's border control laws. He also has discussions in the United Kingdom.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 72/2002, 1 August 2002

2002

On 2 August, Minister Ruddock signs a Joint Ministerial Statement with South Africa's Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Capetown. The Statement provides a framework for mutual cooperation on migration, refugees, irregular migration and people smuggling issues. The agreement allows Australia to return to South Africa all third country nationals who have transited South Africa for at least seven days before arriving illegally in Australia and claiming asylum. South Africa will return to Australia arrivals in similar circumstances. It is Australia's first 'readmission' agreement.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 073/2002, 2 August 2002

2002

Fifty-six refugees (16 women and 40 children) from the Nauru processing centre are admitted into Australia. They are given resettlement priority because they have immediate family members (spouse or parent) in Australia. They are granted three-year temporary protection visas which are available to people 'who have abandoned or by-passed effective protection in a country of first asylum and travelled to another country to seek a preferred migration option'.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 55/2002, 6 August 2002

2002

The Immigration Detention Housing Project, which provides alternative detention arrangements for women and children at Woomera, is deemed successful by Minister Ruddock in August. The Minister says, 'Participants have clearly benefited from the living conditions provided and it has been possible to maintain security with residents living in the town environment'. The women's self esteem was improved 'as their role as mothers in the family was reinforced and they took control of managing their homes, their time and the priorities and activities of their children in a more normal domestic environment than was possible in the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre'. The Minister says he will expand the eligibility criteria for women and children who participate in the project.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 075/2002, 20 August 2002

2002

Eighteen refugees (five women, two men and 11 children) arrive in Australia from the Manus processing centre.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 62/2002, 23 August 2002

2002

On 3 September, 16 refugees comprising five women and 11 children are resettled in Australia from the processing centre on Nauru. In all, 136 people have been allowed into Australia from offshore processing centres.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 64/2002, 4 September 2002

2002

The settlement experiences of new migrants: a comparison of Wave One of LSIA1 and LSIA2 is launched in September. The report, prepared by a team at the National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, contrasts the early settlement experiences of two different cohorts of migrants: the first having been studied for the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA) in 19931994 and the second in 19992000. In speaking at the report's launch, Minister Ruddock says, 'Interestingly, the most satisfied migrants were from the most well-off and the least well-off groupsthat is, business migrants and humanitarian program entrants'. The report found that 90 per cent of migrants interviewed six months after arrival were happy with their decision to migrate and that 'pull' factors were of paramount importance. These include Australia's lifestyle, environment and climate, and opportunities for the future. The report found that nearly all humanitarian entrants intended to take out Australian citizenship.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 81/2002, 3 September 2002

2002

On 6 September, the first detainees are transferred to the new Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing Centre near Port Augusta, South Australia. The seven detainees, from the Woomera centre, comprise three men and four women from Vietnam and Afghanistan. Transfers to Baxter are also planned from centres at Curtin, Port Hedland, Perth and Maribyrnong.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 65/2002, 6 September 2002

2002

Processing of reviews of the assessments of 159 asylum seekers on Nauru and 30 on Manus results, in the Australian caseload, in 138 (130 Afghans and eight Iraqis) being found not to be refugees and 44 (22 Afghans, 19 Iraqis and three others) granted refugee status. Of the seven people in the UNHCR load, six Iraqis are found to be refugees.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 72/2002, 18 September 2002

2002

At 16 September, 1157 initial refugee assessments have been handed down on Nauru (644 by Australia and 513 by the UNHCR) and 835 reviews (plus 48 pending) of the initial assessments handed down (542 by Australia and 341 by UNHCR). A total of 338 initial assessments have been handed down on Manus and 59 reviews (plus 33 pending). About a quarter of all the initial assessments on Nauru are approved, as are 18 per cent of reviews. The main nationalities are Afghan and Iraqi. Of the Nauru initial assessments, 760 (65 per cent) are Afghans, as are 671 (76 per cent) of reviews handed down. A total of 59 Afghans are approved in the initial refugee assessment stage (seven per cent of the Afghans at that stage) and 74 (eight per cent) at review. A total of 340 (58 per cent of) Iraqis are approved at the initial stage, as are 68 (50 per cent) at review. On Manus, at the initial assessment stage, 235 Iraqis (69 per cent) are approved, as are 24 (46 per cent) at review.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 72/2002, 18 September 2002

2002

On 23 September, the last detainees leave Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, which is being decommissioned. The Curtin group, numbering 30, is transferred to the new Baxter Immigration Detention Facility near Port Augusta, South Australia.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 085/2002, 23 September 2002

2002

The first decisions for East Timorese protection visa applicants are handed down, with none of the 168 applicants receiving approval. In March, decision-making on approximately 1700 East Timorese cases was resumed.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 087/2002, 25 September 2002

2002

On 1 October, a group of 49 refugees is admitted into Australia from the processing centre on Manus Island. They are granted three-year temporary protection visas. The 18 men, 12 women and 19 children have family members in Australia. Their arrival brings to 200 the number of people resettled in Australia from offshore processing centres. There are 1062 people in offshore processing centres: 960 on Nauru and 102 on Manus.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 77/2002, 1 October 2002

2002

On 16 October, 40 refugees, comprising 12 men, 11 women and 17 children, are admitted to Australia from the Nauru processing centre. All have family members in Australia. Their arrival brings to 249 the number resettled from the offshore processing centres. There are 1005 remaining in such centres: 903 on Nauru and 102 on Manus.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 81/2002, 16 October 2002

2002

A report prepared by the Human Rights' Commissioner, Dr. Sev Ozdowski, is tabled in Parliament on 22 October. The report, titled Report on visits to immigration detention facilities by the Human Rights Commissioner 2001, criticises the mandatory detention system, particularly the long periods in which some detainees are kept in detention. Dr. Ozdowski's report attributes recent violent protests in the centres to the deprivation of detainees' basic human rights. Minister Ruddock responds to the report by saying that it contains factual errors that 'damage its overall credibility and authority'. He cites as an example the report's claim that five or six people share accommodation designed for a single occupant. The Minister says there are no accommodation units for single individuals at the centre. Ruddock criticises the Commissioner for accepting statements made by detainees 'at face value' and for not acknowledging that lengthy periods of detention are largely a product of detainees pursuing domestic litigation.

M. Shaw, 'Detention ordeals under fire', The Age, 23 October 2002

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 89/2002, 22 October 2002

2002

On 22 October, thirty-two refugees, comprising seven men, eight women and 17 children, arrive in Australia from Nauru processing centre. All have family members in Australia. A total of 281 people have been resettled from offshore processing centres. There are 973 people in the centres: 871 on Nauru and 102 on Manus.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 82/2002, 23 October 2002

2002

On 29 October, 21 refugees, comprising six men, four women and 11 children, arrive in Australia from Nauru processing centre. The 18 Iraqis and three Afghans all have family members in Australia. A total of 302 people have been resettled from offshore processing centres. There are 944 people in the centres: 842 on Nauru and 102 on Manus.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 83/2002, 30 October 2002

2002

On 14 November, Minister Ruddock announces a series of packages of assistance to Afghanistan worth $2.4 million. The main funding is to help Afghanistan strengthen its migration and border control system. Other support is for employment and training for Afghan returnees. Australia has previously funded the refurbishment of a training and accommodation facility in Kabul (the Jangalak Reception Centre). Australia has provided more than $53 million in assistance to Afghanistan since September 2001.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 98/2002, 14 November 2002

2002

On 17 November, a group of 113 Afghan asylum seekers is returned to Kabul from Nauru as part of the Australian Government's reintegration assistance package. The package provides cash assistance of $2000 per individual adult or child or up to $10 000 for a family unit. A range of support services are also provided, through the International Organisation for Migration, including counselling, air travel, reception, access to vocational training and help with transportation from Kabul to other destinations within Afghanistan. Forty-two Afghans have previously returned to Kabul from Nauru. Of 549 Afghans remaining on Nauru, 318 have accepted the reintegration package offer. Under the package, returnees can access the Jangalak Reintegration and Vocational Training Centre, which is funded by the Australian Government, and due to open shortly.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 099/2002, 17 November 2002 and MPS 110/2002, 16 December 2002

2002

A criminal deported to Vietnam from Australia on 18 November brings to 24 the number of removals of Vietnamese nationals under the Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Vietnam, which was signed in June 2001.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 89/2002, 18 November 2002

2002

On 28 November, ten Iraqi refugees, comprising four men and four women, arrive in Australia from the processing centre on Nauru. All have close family links in Australia. A total of 312 people have been resettled from offshore processing centres: 192 from Nauru and 120 from Manus. There are 810 people in the centres: 719 on Nauru and 91 on Manus.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 91/2002, 29 November 2002

2002

On 3 December, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Simon Crean MP, and the Shadow Minister for Population and Immigration, Julia Gillard MP, release the Australian Labor Party's new policy on asylum seekers and refugees. Mandatory detention is retained in the policy but Labor pledges to release children and scrap the 'Pacific Solution' (i.e. the excision of Australian islands from the migration zone). The ALP also commits itself to closing Woomera detention centre, speeding up the processing of people in detention and releasing into 'supervised hostel accommodation' those 'with claims of merit who pose no risk'. The policy also says that under a Labor Government 'Temporary Protection Visas will not continue indefinitely' and that 'returned asylum seekers will be monitored to ensure they are not being persecuted'. Initiatives relating to border security include the establishment of an Australian Coastguard and the introduction of a Green Card to 'crack down on illegal workers'.

Joint Statement by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Simon Crean MP, and Shadow Minister for Population and Immigration, Julia Gillard MP, Canberra, 3 December 2002

2002

On 7 December, detainees on Christmas Island protest against negative decisions on their asylum appeals by damaging property and setting fire to accommodation blocks.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 95/2002, 8 December 2002

2002

On 9 December, the final group of detainees on Christmas Island, comprising 15 Sri Lankans, receive the outcomes of the reviews of their initial assessments for asylum. The review decisions were delayed as a result of disturbances at the reception centre on 7 December.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 96/2002, 10 December 2002

2002

On 11 December, Australia signs the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children ('the People Trafficking Protocol'). The Protocol is part of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The Protocol is signed by 112 other countries, including Australia's key regional partners in the fight against people trafficking.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 106/2002, 12 December 2002

Jointly with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison.

2002

Minister Ruddock and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, reject the report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention's visit to Australia in May and June. They say the report 'contains fundamental factual errors, misrepresents Australia's policies and demonstrates significant confusion about the relationship between international and Australian law'. A 25 page critique is released by Minister Ruddock substantiating his rejection of the report.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 107/2002, 13 December 2002

2002

On 15 December, a group of 119 Afghan men return to Kabul from Nauru under the Australian government's reintegration assistance package. The package provides cash assistance of $2000 per individual adult or child or up to $10 000 for a family unit. A range of support services are also provided, through the International Organisation for Migration, including counselling, air travel, reception, access to vocational training and help with transportation from Kabul to other destinations within Afghanistan. On 17 November, a group of 113 Afghans are the first large-scale group to return under the package. Of 428 Afghans on Nauru, slightly less than 200 have accepted the package and arrangements are being made for their return.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 109/2002, 15 December 2002 and MPS 110/2002, 16 December 2002

2002

On 16 December, Minister Ruddock extends the reintegration package for Afghan asylum seekers to include holders of Temporary Protection Visas. Afghan TPV holders who are applying for a further Protection Visa must withdraw their application, should they accept the reintegration package. The package provides cash assistance of $2000 per individual adult or child or up to $10 000 for a family unit. A range of support services are also provided, through the International Organisation for Migration, including counselling, air travel, reception, access to vocational training and help with transportation from Kabul to other destinations within Afghanistan. The cut-off date for accepting the offer is 30 June 2003.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 110/2002, 16 December 2002

2002

Four more islands are excised from Australia's migration zone. The excision is a temporary measure, prompted by concerns about a boat possibly carrying illegal entrants. The islands, located near Carnarvon, Western Australia, are Bernier Island, Dorre Island, Dirk Hartog Island and Faure Island. When it is discovered that the boat is not carrying illegal entrants, Minister Ruddock says he will ask the Governor General to rescind the excisions.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 111/2002, 17 December 2002

2002

As of 17 December, there has not been an unauthorised boat arrival for twelve months. Minister Ruddock maintains that this is proof that the Government's policies against people smugglers are working. 'But most importantly', he says, 'it has stopped people risking their lives in dangerous journeys'.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, MPS 112/2002, 17 December 2002

2002

Detainees at Baxter Immigration Detention Facility set fire to accommodation units on 27 and 29 December. Seventy-seven rooms in two compounds are destroyed by up to five fires. Many of those involved are people 'found not to be refugees' or 'awaiting a review decision of the rejection of their claims for asylum'. Damage is estimated at about $2 million.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, DPS 101102/2002, 29 and 30 December 2002

2002

On 29 December, a fire, believed to be deliberately lit, causes about $3 million damage to Port Hedland detention centre. On the same day, two small fires are started at Woomera detention centre.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Media Release, DPS 102/2002, 30 December 2002

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  Commonwealth of Australia
Chronologies are written for Members of Parliament, being located on the Internet they can be read by members of the public, however some linked items are available to Members of Parliament only, due to copyright reasons.


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