Refugee Council of Australia
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Statistics on people in detention in Australia

Length of detention

These graphs show how long people are spending in detention in Australia. The first graph shows the length of detention over the past year, as reported in the monthly statistics.

The second graph shows the changes in the length of detention over a longer period. Each bar shows how many people have been detained for the corresponding time period, as at the end of each financial year (30 June). Before 2013-14, individuals were mainly spending three months or less in detention. Since then, the time spent in detention has increased very significantly.

Note: in earlier years, only the period ’91 days or less’ were indicated in the statistics. This has been broken down in later years.

The average number of days people spend in detention (now 545) has been increasing since late 2013, although in late 2017 the average reduced a little.

However, according to the Department of Home Affairs in an answer to a question on notice in Senate estimates, the average number of days in detention for people seeking asylum was 826 days at 26 February 2018.

A Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report on long-term immigration detention found that 13% of the long-term cases of detention it reported on had been in detention for 4 years or more, compared with 25% in 2014-15. There were also 42 people who had been detained for 5 years or more, who were unlikely to be released.

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Contact us

Do you have a question about our statistics, or would you like to know more information? Contact us at policy@refugeecouncil.org.au.