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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, as reported in the monthly statistics.

Stacked area chart showing length of detention

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.

Stacked column chart showing average length of detention

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.

Line chart showing average number of days in detention

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 by boat was 826 days at 26 February 2018.

A Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report on long-term immigration detention found that in 2016–17, 122 people had been detained for more than five years, and 24 people had been detained for six years or more.

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