Refugee Council of Australia
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Statistics on people in detention in Australia

Where people are in detention

This map shows where immigration detention facilities are in Australia. It does not include Alternative Places of Detention (other than the Northern APOD in the Northern Territory).

The second graph shows the number of people in Immigration Detention Centres and Immigration Transit Accommodation, according to the latest statistics (30 June 2021). (Note that some figures are not exact, due to changes in the Department’s recording of statistics)). The largest populations are in Villawood IDC (in Sydney) and Yongah Hill IDC (in WA). Maribyrnong IDC was closed in December 2018.

While everyone was taken out of Christmas Island in early October 2018, in September 2019 a Tamil family previously living in Bileola, Queensland became the first people to be detained there. They lived in the ‘Alternative Place of Detention’ on Christmas Island, which is in a separate part of the Christmas Island detention facility. They were transferred to community detention in Perth in June 2021 after the youngest child became severely ill and needed to be medevaced to a hospital in Perth.

In August 2020, the Australian Government announced that it would re-open the North West Point Immigration Detention Centre in Christmas Island to manage the surge in population of people in detention. The first group of people were transferred two weeks after the announcement. By 30 June 2021, 219 people were in that Immigration Detention Centre.

Alternative places of detention

Some people are held in what the Department of Home Affairs calls ‘alternative places of detention’ (APODs). According to the Department, APODs can be hospitals, hotel accommodation, aged-care facilities, or mental health in-patient facilities. Sometimes parts of detention facilities can be reclassified as ‘alternative places of detention’. In response to a Senate Question on Notice, the Department of Home Affairs revealed that from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2021, 170 APODs were used in Australia at any time, with the highest number being in Queensland. As at 31 January 2021, 56 APODs were classified as hotel-type APODs.

Many people transferred under the Medevac legislation from Papua New Guinea and Nauru have been held in APODs, such as Kangaroo Point Central hotel in Brisbane, Mantra hotel in Melbourne, Park hotel in Melbourne, and a complex adjacent to the Mercure Darwin Airport Resort. In December 2020, people detained in Mantra hotel were moved to Park hotel. In January 2021 around 68 people were released from detention facilities in Melbourne (Park hotel and Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation).

The next graph shows the number of people held in alternative places of detention across Australia, according to the latest official statistics.

Community detention

Other people are held in ‘community detention’ or under a ‘residence determination’. These people live in approved housing within the community, but are subject to restrictions that require them to stay in that housing overnight. This graph shows where people in community detention have been living across Australia over time.

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