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Statistics on boat arrivals and boat turnbacks

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Boat arrivals and boat turnbacks – the numbers

How many people have come to Australia seeking arrival by boat? How many people have been subject to Australia’s ‘boat turnbacks’? This page provides the latest statistics on boat arrivals and boat turnbacks.

Why do people come by boat?

People seek asylum by boat for many reasons. Australia operates a universal visa system, which makes it very difficult for many people from certain countries to enter Australia by plane with a valid visa. Often, people from countries with a high number of refugees are excluded through strict border controls from entering many countries. It is not always possible for people to seek refuge in a refugee camp, and the number of resettlement places available for refugees is extremely small.

Seeking asylum by boat

The data on these pages consolidates information from different publicly available and official sources. You can download the data, including notes and sources, here or from the link under each chart. These graphs are also interactive, so you can hover over the graph to see each data point.

The following graphs show the number of people who have arrived by boat since 1976. They show two peak periods for people arriving: from 1999-2002, and from 2009-2014. The rapid drop in numbers after these periods reflect a policy of forcibly returning boats (‘boat turnbacks’), which is discussed next.

This first graph shows numbers of people who arrived by boat by calendar year.

This second graphs shows the same data by financial year.

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