legal issues

Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Immigration

Community care and case resolution

Harriet Spinks

The 2009–10 Budget allocates $77.4 million over four years for ‘key immigration compliance and detention policy improvements in community care, status resolution and assisted voluntary returns’.[1] The cost of this measure will be fully offset by savings from within the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s existing funding for detention operations and contract management. The package provides funding for early intervention mechanisms and active case management to assist in achieving a timely resolution of people’s immigration status, as well as a program of assisted voluntary returns for people who have no right to remain in Australia and choose to return to their country of origin. These programs are intended to allow for the management in the community of people who have no right to remain in Australia, rather than relying only on immigration detention.

The Government has claimed these measures comprise part of  a suite of changes it is making to  the way immigration detention is used and managed in Australia,  a policy agenda it has labelled ‘New Directions in Detention’.[2] However, the measures which will be funded under this allocation are not entirely new. They build on existing measures which were introduced under the previous Government in an attempt to more quickly resolve people’s immigration status and minimise both the likely risk of a person being detained, and the length of time spent in immigration detention.

The proposed Community Status Resolution Service and Assisted Voluntary Return Service, which will be funded under this measure, have developed from the Community Care Pilot, which was introduced in May 2006, and the Community Status Resolution Trial, an extension of arrangements under the Community Care Pilot which commenced in July 2007. The Community Care Pilot focused on providing immigration advice, information and counselling to vulnerable clients, while also addressing their health and welfare needs, to assist them in promptly reaching an immigration outcome and resolving their immigration status. Services were provided through the Australian Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Community Status Resolution Trial was designed to complement the Community Care Pilot, providing assistance to clients who did not have health and welfare vulnerabilities who wished to depart Australia voluntarily. Clients were referred to the IOM for immigration counselling, information, and voluntary return services.[3]

While the measures being funded under this budget allocationwere already being trialled, the funding represents a significant increase in the budgetary commitment to these programs—in both 2007–08 and 2008–09 the budget allocation for the case management and community care pilot was just $5.6 million.[4]

[1].    C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), New directions in detention, media release, Canberra, 12 May 2009, viewed 18 May 2009,

[2].    See C Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), ‘New directions in detention—restoring integrity to Australia’s immigration system’, speech delivered at the Australian National University, Canberra, 29 July 2008, viewed 18 May 2009,

[3].    For more information on the Community Care Pilot and Community Status Resolution Trial see Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Annual report 2007–08, DIAC, Canberra, 2008, pp. 110–1.

[4].    Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2007–08: budget related paper no. 1.13: Immigration and Citizenship Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2007, p. 27; and Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2008–09: budget related paper no. 1.12: Immigration and Citizenship Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2007, p. 20.