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. It shows for example that as of 31 December 2020, a total of 101 people have been detained for over 1825 days (over 5 years).

The third 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 616 days) is now at its highest since late 2012.

This next graph shows the extreme length of time some people have been held in detention. It shows that as of 31 August 2020 almost 100 people have been in detention for over five years, with several having spent more than ten years in detention.

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