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Australian Government makes 23 pledges at 2023 Global Refugee Forum

The Australian Government made 23 pledges and committed AU$265 million in funding when representatives of governments, refugee-led organisations and civil society from around the world gathered in Geneva in December 2023 for the second Global Refugee Forum.

The three-day forum, attended in person by 4200 participants from 170 countries and 10,000 people online, resulted in 1700 pledges for action over the four years to 2027 on practical steps to advance the four key objectives of the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees – ease pressures on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, increase access to durable solutions and improve conditions in countries of origin. These 1700 pledges, two-thirds of them made by civil society organisations and one-third governments, are linked to 43 multi-stakeholder pledges, grouping the commitments to common themes. The total value of the pledges made at the forum was more than US$2.2 billion.

The Australian Government’s 23 pledges at the 2023 forum were on matters relating to resettlement, community sponsorship, refugee labour mobility, education, mental health, immigration detention, refugee participation, gender, refugee travel documents, statelessness, international cooperation, peacebuilding, the needs of Rohingya refugees and displacement in and from Afghanistan and Sudan. At the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019, Australia, led by the government of Scott Morrison, made just three pledges. Australia’s Global Refugee Forum pledges are listed below. The Australian Government’s $265 million in funding commitments announced during the Global Refugee Forum includes $235 million to support displaced Rohingya and communities in need in Myanmar and Bangladesh. For the first time, the Australian Government delegation to the Global Refugee Forum included a refugee advisor as part of the official delegation – Danijel Malbasa, who is a member of the government’s newly appointed nine-member Refugee Advisory Panel.

The many pledges made by civil society organisations included the joint Legal Community Pledge to offer nearly one million hours of pro bono legal assistance over four years, doubling the pledge made at the first forum in 2019. The joint pledge on meaningful refugee participation, launched by the Global Refugee-led Network in 2019, now has the support of 15 governments (including Australia) and more than 100 other signatories (including Refugee Council of Australia).

The Refugee Council of Australia was represented at the Global Refugee Forum by CEO Paul Power and Deputy CEO Adama Kamara. In a high-level meeting on resettlement, Paul Power announced a joint Australian civil society pledge to advocate and mobilise support to increase resettlement and complementary pathways to Australia. At a side meeting on meaningful participation organised by refugee-led organisations, Adama Kamara shared her experiences in promoting and coordinating funding for refugee-led organisations in the Asia-Pacific as co-chair of the Refugee Leadership Alliance.

Pledges are still being received and can be made at any time through a portal on UNHCR’s website. The pledges are listed on a searchable database. Each of the pledging organisations will be asked to provide updates on their pledges over coming years, leading up to the third Global Refugee Forum in late 2027.

Australian Government pledges at 2023 Global Refugee Forum

The text of the pledges made by the Australian Government leading up to and following the 2023 Global Refugee Forum:

Resettlement

Growing resettlement programs and complementary pathways

The Australian Government pledges, including through Australia’s role as Chair of the 2024 Consultations on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways (CRCP) and Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility (2024-26), to:

  • support, including in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, other States to establish and grow their own refugee resettlement programs and complementary pathways, with a view to expanding access to third country solutions; ensuring refugees can successfully integrate into their new society; and promoting refugee-centred resettlement procedures and outcomes;
  • engage with refugee hosting states as partners in the exercise of growing resettlement and complementary pathways; and
  • bring in the private sector as a partner in resettlement and complementary-pathways.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Refugee Travel Documents; Resettlement; Skills-based complementary pathways

 

Growing Australia’s resettlement places through our Humanitarian Program

The Australian Government commits to gradually increase Australia’s Humanitarian Program commencing from 2023-24, allowing us to highlight the ways in which humanitarian entrants enrich Australian society and boost the economy with their skills, talent and diverse cultural backgrounds.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Resettlement

 

Reforming Australia’s approach to settlement program and delivery through enhanced Integration of refugee perspectives

Australia pledges to include diverse refugee perspectives in national systems through work currently underway to reform the approach to settlement program and delivery, using the Refugee and Humanitarian Entrant Settlement and Integration Outcomes Framework that articulates Australia’s vision of successful settlement and integration. This includes developing indicators that can measure the settlement progress of humanitarian entrants, enhance positive settlement outcomes for refugees and humanitarian entrants, and guide government agencies delivering settlement services from planning through to programs and evaluation

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Resettlement

Community sponsorship

Growing community sponsorship

The Australian Government supports the multi-stakeholder pledge on Community Sponsorship and pledges to work with civil society, community, non-government, and refugee-led organisations, to harness the power of all segments of Australian society to gradually increase community sponsored and other complementary places to 10,000 per year over time, additional to the core humanitarian intake.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Community Sponsorship

Refugee labour mobility

Implementing Australia’s expanded Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot

The Australian Government pledges to fully implement the recently extended and expanded Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot:

  • delivering 500 primary visas by 30 June 2025 together with Talent Beyond Boundaries and a wide range of Australian employers;
  • keep pilot program settings under review to ensure we realise the full potential of refugee labour mobility; and
  • consider transitioning the pilot to a permanent element of the skilled migration program.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Skills-based complementary pathways

 

Refugee labour mobility – ‘train to hire’ model

Recognising the importance of investing in human capital of refugees and the potential of skills-based complementary pathways to provide durable solutions for refugees, the Australian Government commits to work with relevant partners and refugee hosting countries to investigate opportunities for a ‘train to hire’ model that supports refugees in Indo-Pacific host countries to gain skills sought after in resettlement countries, improving access to employment matching and broader complementary pathways opportunities.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Skills-based complementary pathways

 

Refugee labour mobility – Northern Territory, Australia

The Australian Federal Government, in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, Talent Beyond Boundaries and Fragomen, pledge to facilitate 100 job matches by June 2024 under Australia’s Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot, providing a pathway for skilled refugees and displaced persons to live and work in the Northern Territory, Australia. The partnership is a practical example of how businesses and business leaders can harness the talent of refugees to address skills shortages, creating a win-win for displaced people, employers and the wider community.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection; Education – 15% by 2030; Skills-based complementary pathways

Education

Refugee student pathway

The Australian Government commits to scope the potential development of a refugee student settlement pathway, through a co-design process with the higher education and refugee and humanitarian settlement sectors. This pathway would engage new communities in refugee settlement, such as universities, staff, and students, while providing young refugees the opportunity to undertake a university degree in safety, and equip themselves to build their own futures, in Australia or beyond.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Education – 15% by 2030; Skills-based complementary pathways

 

Development of AMEPOnline app – free English language

The Australian Government pledges to improve accessibility of free English language training through developing an application for AMEPOnline. AMEPOnline is a free, publicly available English language learning website, providing a comprehensive suite of language materials across five levels, suitable from beginner level. The application will help overcome accessibility issues of online-only resources and better suit the needs of refugees and displaced people, empowering self-reliance and enhancing access to livelihoods and durable solutions, including skills-based complementary pathways such as education and labour mobility.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection; Education – 15% by 2030; Skills-based complementary pathways

 

Securing sustainable futures: sharing responsibility to include refugees in national education systems

Australia is a longstanding donor to the Global Partnership for Education, pledging $180 million for 2021- 25. Including a commitment of $87.7 million from 2023-25 to hardwire gender and build strong and resilient climate-smart education systems in partner countries. Australia’s pledge supports partner governments to make systemic change and align resources to deliver inclusive education for the most marginalised including girls, children with disabilities, refugee and displaced children.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Towards a Shared Responsibility to Uphold the Right to Education and Include Refugee Children in National Education Systems

Mental health

Fostering mental health and psychosocial well-being

The Australian Government pledges its continued support to fostering mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees through:

  • A partnership with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to undertake analysis of data on health outcomes and health care service use of refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia to:
    • better understand their health status; •inform design and delivery of health care and settlement services; and
    • address their unique health needs and challenges.
  • Settlement support to refugee and humanitarian entrants, including registration with Australia’s universal healthcare insurance scheme (Medicare), a post-arrival health assessment, and access to physical and mental health services; and
  • Increased investment in Australia’s Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PASTT), taking total program funding to $233.8 million over four years from 2023-24 to 2026-27. This will provide internationally renowned specialised trauma support and psychosocial services to humanitarian entrants who have experienced torture or trauma prior to their arrival in Australia.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Fostering Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing; National Health System Inclusion; Inclusion of Forcibly Displaced and Stateless Persons in National Statistical Systems and Surveys

Legal assistance

Access to legal assistance

The Australian Government pledges to provide over $48 million to legal service providers from early 2024 to boost legal assistance for onshore Protection visa applicants. This will help vulnerable visa applicants to be supported throughout the Protection visa process, mitigating the exploitation of vulnerable migrants, and assisting Australia to meet its international obligations.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: PILNET – 2023 Global Legal Community

Immigration detention

Supporting alternatives to detention

The Australian Government pledges to continue to share practice and policy lessons from Australia’s journey away from held detention of children, especially within the Asia-Pacific.

The Australian Government also reaffirms its continued commitment to ensuring that held detention is only used for the shortest practical time and where necessary, reasonable and proportionate under the Migration Act 1958; and further pledges to progress initiatives under the Alternatives to Held Detention Program, in support of expanding alternatives to immigration detention that are community-based and non-custodial.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Developing Alternatives to Immigration Detention and Ending Immigration Detention of Asylum-seeking, Refugee, Stateless and Migrant Children and Their Families

Refugee participation

Australian Refugee Advisory Panel

Australia reaffirms its 2019 commitment to support the meaningful participation of refugees and host communities in decisions that affect their lives and pledges to further the 2019 commitment through the establishment of an Australian Refugee Advisory Panel. The Panel will provide a formal mechanism for meaningful refugee participation recognising the importance of lived experience, diversity and inclusion in shaping Australia’s policy development and engagement with the international refugee protection system and humanitarian assistance.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Refugee Participation; Resettlement

Gender

Gender – Gender Equality & Protection from Gender-based Violence

The Australian Government commits to partner with refugee-led organisations supporting prevention of gender-based violence and response service provision, including those led by displaced and stateless women. We will provide flexible, long-term funding, as directly as possible, to strengthen women’s leadership, participation and influence in process and initiatives related to displacement.

The Australian Government, in concert with academia and non-government organisations, will support a series of good practice dialogues from 2024-25, to exchange perspectives on evidence to eliminate gender-based violence for refugee populations, and good practice in accessible and survivor-centred service provision across Asia. Australia commits to highlight refugee-led efforts to develop, sustain and contribute to national gender-based violence services.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Gender Equality & Protection from Gender-based Violence; Refugee Participation; Gender – Avec Elles

Refugee travel documents

Machine-readable refugee travel documents

The Australian and New Zealand Governments pledge to champion the enhanced global issuance and acceptance of machine-readable refugee travel documents; to share expertise and technical advice with interested States; and to partner with ICAO and UNHCR to build the technical capability of States to issue and accept machine-readable convention travel documents.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Refugee Travel Documents

 

Statelessness

Global Alliance to End Statelessness

The Australian Government pledges to become members of the Global Alliance to End Statelessness (once established) to actively and collaboratively support the vision of a world free from statelessness so that everyone enjoys the right to nationality without discrimination.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Ending Statelessness

 

International cooperation

Asylum capacity strengthening

The Australian and New Zealand Governments commit to supporting comprehensive protection and solutions strategies in the Asia-Pacific, and supporting States, including those who are smaller and emerging, to develop and strengthen their asylum systems and protection capacity.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Asylum Capacity

 

Localisation – Advancing Localisation in Displacement and Statelessness Responses

The Australian Government commits to strengthening, respecting and recognising the leadership and decision-making of national and local actors in humanitarian action, along with refugee-led organisations, to better address the needs of affected populations. Australia will continue to support innovative localisation practice, including to measure localised humanitarian action in displacement contexts.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Advancing Localisation in Displacement and Statelessness Responses; Refugee Participation

 

Response to specific large-scale crises

Rohingya Refugees – Expanded Resilience, Enhanced Solutions

The Australian Government commits $235 million in humanitarian assistance from 2023 to 2025 to meet the needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and their host communities, and for broader humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, including support for Rohingya in Rakhine state. Australia’s funding will deliver essential protection, food, water, shelter, education and health services to those most in need, including women, girls and people with disabilities.

The Australian Government commits to enhancing support for durable solutions, including increasing Rohingya refugee resettlement.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Rohingya Refugees – Expanded Resilience, Enhanced Solutions

 

Afghanistan – ReSolve – for Resilience and Solutions, a Multi-stakeholder Pledge for the Afghanistan Situation

The Australian Government commits $20 million in humanitarian assistance in 2024, to support the needs of displaced Afghans and their host communities. This includes support to:

  • the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, including those internally displaced, to meet food, nutrition and livelihoods needs;
  • host countries to respond to priority humanitarian and protection needs and build resilient communities through the Regional Refugee Response Plan for the Afghanistan Situation; and
  • Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan, to deliver sexual and reproductive health services and services to survivors of gender-based violence.

This takes Australia’s commitments in response to the Afghanistan Situation to $71 million in 2023-24, and $213 million since the onset of the 2021 Afghanistan crisis. Australia’s humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan provides health, shelter, protection, and community-based education, with a focus on women and girls and people with disabilities. Australia will also continue to provide flexible, multi-year funding to address humanitarian need for displaced Afghans and create conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation.

The Australian Government reaffirms our commitment to 16,500 places allocated for Afghan nationals under Australia’s Humanitarian Program delivered over four years from 2022-23 to 2025-26, in addition to the ongoing 10,000 places for Afghan nationals allocated within the Offshore Humanitarian program.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Afghanistan – ReSolve – for Resilience and Solutions, a Multi-stakeholder Pledge for the Afghanistan Situation

 

IGAD – Beyond Borders, Beyond Barriers – Delivering Comprehensive Solutions in the IGAD Region

The Australian Government commits $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan and neighbouring countries in 2023-24 for lifesaving protection and assistance for displaced people:

  • $7 million to support to host countries in the region to lead and coordinate the Sudan refugee response, and
  • $3 million to address the most urgent needs and safety concerns arising from the conflict and help to advocate respect for International Humanitarian Law.

This takes Australia’s commitments in response to the Sudan Situation to $20.45 million since May 2023.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: IGAD – Beyond Borders, Beyond Barriers – Delivering Comprehensive Solutions in the IGAD Region

 

Peacebuilding

Solutions – Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention

Australia is a top 10 donor to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, and has committed AUD 12 million from 2023 to 2025, to provide rapid and flexible funding for immediate response and peacebuilding recovery efforts. We have also committed AUD 4.5 million in funding for the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Multi-Year Appeal (2023-2026), to contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

During Australia’s term on the UN Peacebuilding Commission from 2025 to 2026, we intend to support peace efforts in conflict-affected countries, including in the Pacific and South-East Asia, where we have a long history of supporting peacebuilding processes.

We will also encourage the participation of refugees and internally displaced persons in peacebuilding processes.

Linked to multi-stakeholder pledges on: Accelerate and Better Leverage Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus Approaches in Forced Displacement Settings; Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention

 

Australian Government pledges 2019 to 2022

The Australian Government made three pledges at the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019 and an additional pledge in 2022.

People with disabilities

Drive inclusive policies and programs which identify and address the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in and benefiting from humanitarian action

Australia is a global champion of disability inclusion in humanitarian action. We are committed to working with our partners to drive inclusive approaches that identify and address barriers which prevent people with disabilities from participating in and benefiting from humanitarian action. We will continue working with our partners to ensure all of Australia’s humanitarian and development policies and programs are disability inclusive, including through advocating for implementation of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action and the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy. As part of our multi-year package of humanitarian assistance for the Syria crisis, Australia is proud to partner with Humanity & Inclusion to build the capacity of our humanitarian response partners and strengthen disability inclusive practices in our education and livelihoods projects. We look forward to continuing to work with Humanity & Inclusion in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to ensure Australia’s humanitarian partners promote the participation of people with disabilities and ensure programs and interventions are relevant and adapted to their specific needs.

(December 2019)

 

Education

Support for expanding access to education by refugees and host communities, and improving the quality and inclusiveness of education systems

Education is central to refugee self-reliance, and to preparing refugees for durable solutions. In line with the Global Compact on Refugees, Australia will continue working with our partners to expand and enhance access to education by refugees and host communities, and to improving the quality and inclusiveness of education systems. In particular, Australia is moving toward providing multi-year humanitarian commitments in situations of protracted crises, which promotes predictable and sustainable assistance to refugees and displaced people. Australia supports collective international action in support of refugees, for example our funding in Jordan aligned to the Jordan Compact and strengthened the education sector to better service both refugees and host communities. Our flexible funding to UNICEF has contributed to the enrolment of 1.3 million children in formal education including 130,000 Syrian refugees. As part of our response to the largest refugee crisis in our region, Australia continues to show a strong commitment to supporting refugees and host communities in Bangladesh with better access to education and skills development. In line with Australia’s development and humanitarian policy priorities, we will ensure all of our education implementing partners deliver programs that are gender sensitive and disability inclusive, and prioritise access to education for the most vulnerable in communities.

(December 2019)

 

Gender

Support for enhancing the participation and agency of women and girls in refugee and host communities, and the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence

Protecting the human rights and dignity of people affected by a crisis ensures their safety from serious harm. Protection is central to all of Australia’s humanitarian action and initiatives and our humanitarian assistance programming has a strong focus on inclusion and participation in all contexts. We reiterate our commitment to ensuring that all of our partners engaged in the delivery of humanitarian assistance address the specific protection needs of the most vulnerable. Further, Australia is committed to promoting the voices of refugees and host communities in our humanitarian action, in line with our commitments to accountability under the Grand Bargain. The Australian Government is currently developing a second National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security, which outlines our ongoing commitment to promoting women and girls’ meaningful participation, agency and voice; reducing sexual and gender-based violence; strengthening gender responsive development and humanitarian programming; putting women and girls at the centre of our efforts to prevent and resolve conflict; and to promote healthy gender norms to secure peace and stability globally. In line with the Global Compact on Refugees and the NAP, Australia will continue to work with our humanitarian partners to enhance the participation and agency of women and girls in refugee and host communities, including through support for programs that focus on the protection of displaced women and girls in Myanmar and Bangladesh (where UNHCR has been a long-term partner). We are proud to support the University of New South Wales Forced Migration Research Network to monitor and implement the gender commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees and will look for further opportunities to ensure refugee women and girls are able to participate in the policy and planning for refugee response, peacebuilding and development initiatives. In 2019, we are also proud to mark the 30th anniversary of the Australian Government’s Woman at Risk visa program, which assists refugee women and their dependents in particularly vulnerable situations to rebuild their lives in safety in Australia, free from the constant threat of danger and violence. Since its inception, this program has helped more than 23,500 women refugees and their dependants resettle in Australia. We will continue to prioritise the protection of vulnerable women and their dependants, with the target for resettlement of this group at 20 percent of our overall resettlement program in 2019–20.

(December 2019)

 

Resettlement

Sharing of experience/expertise to support refugee resettlement programs

Australia commits to support other Member States, at their request, to establish or refine refugee resettlement programs through the sharing of our experience and expertise with a view to ensuring refugees can successfully integrate in their new society.

(March 2022)

 

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