Refugee Council of Australia
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Statistics on people in detention in Australia

Length of detention

The graphs on this page show how long people are spending in detention in Australia.

The first graph shows the number of people who have been detained for different periods of time. This is based on the monthly statistics published by the Department of Home Affairs.

Since August 2020, the Department has provided further breakdown for people who have spent more than 2 years in detention. The next graph shows that breakdown.

The average number of days people spend in detention (610 days) is a significant drop from the previous high of 719 days in the previous month, largely attributable to the releases of people as a result of the High Court decision in NZYQ.

However, this average understates the time spent in detention by refugees or people on humanitarian visas (as it includes people detained for other reasons). As at 31 December 2023, the average period of detention for people who came on humanitarian visas or refugees was 2.9 years (1,057 days).

This graph shows the average time by nationality of those in held detention.

This next graph shows the extreme length of time some people have been held in detention. It shows that over 120 people have been in detention for five years or more, with several having spent more than ten years in detention.

As at 31 March 2023, the longest time a person still in held detention had been held was 5,766 days - nearly 16 years.

This graph shows the length of detention for people who are stateless. As they are stateless, they cannot readily be returned to their country of origin.

This graph shows their recorded country of birth.

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