The year 2017-2018 has been a tumultuous period for Australian refugee policy, as evidenced by the recent Department of Home Affairs annual report.
Refugee and Humanitarian Program
In 2017–18, the Government’s Humanitarian Program contained 16,250 places and an additional 12,000 places for people displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq. This comprised of 14,825 visas under the offshore component and 1,425 under the onshore component. The offshore component comprised 7,909 visas granted under the refugee category. More than 2,100 visas were granted to families and vulnerable women and children.
Of the 32,414 people seeking protection that were in Australia with unresolved status after the implementation of Operation Sovereign Borders in September 2013, 65 per cent of applications (21,076 cases) had been decided as at the end of 2017-18.
There were 7,041 people as part of the legacy caseload who had their applications determined. This includes both grants and refusals.
The Department has claimed to have made progress in resolving people seeking protection following the Government’s 1 October 2017 deadline for people to apply for assessment of their asylum claims.
Detention and removals
At the 30th of June 2018, there were 1,715 people in Australian immigration detention (mainland and Christmas Island). In 2017-18, 7083 people were removed from onshore immigration detention centers in mainland Australia.
The average amount of days to determine a protection visa, from lodgment to primary decision, was 231 days in 2017–18. Of the 14,959 protection visa decisions made in 2017–18, over 90 per cent were refusals.
US Resettlement Arrangement
On 13 November 2016, the Government announced that Australia had reached a new one-off resettlement arrangement with the United States (US) for refugees in Nauru and Papua New Guinea; 292 refugees (108 from PNG and 184 from Nauru) have been resettled in the US as of 30 June 2018.
Manus Island administered expenses
The Department’s 2017–18 administered expenses in managing the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre were $2.36 billion.