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Home > Media > Refugee Council welcomes life-changing expansion of Australia’s refugee program

Refugee Council welcomes life-changing expansion of Australia’s refugee program

Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement today that it will increase the annual Refugee and Humanitarian Program to 20,000 places in 2023-24.  

“The expansion of Australia’s refugee program by 2,125 places a year is a step in the right direction for Australia and will be life-changing for those who will now gain access to refugee resettlement,” RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said. 

“This announcement by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles comes at a time of great need, with the global refugee population greater than ever before at 35.3 million, and 2.4 million refugees identified by the UN refugee agency UNHCR as being in urgent need of resettlement. 

“At a time of such great need, every additional refugee resettlement place is welcome and signifies Australia’s willingness to increase its share of international responsibility for people displaced by persecution and conflict. 

“We look forward to further increases in coming years, as the Albanese Government implements the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to increase the annual Refugee and Humanitarian Program to 27,000 places with 5,000 additional places for community sponsorship. While Labor has given no timeframe for when this commitment will be achieved, we believe the Albanese Government can achieve this goal by the end of the current Parliamentary term in 2025. 

“It is a perfect time for Australia to demonstrate international leadership. In June, Australia took on the chairing of the Consultations on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways (CRCP), the global dialogue which brings together UNHCR, governments, NGOs and refugee representatives from resettlement states. 

“As chair of this process for the first time in 12 years, Australia has the opportunity to showcase its approach to refugee settlement and lead discussions on international strategies to increase refugees’ access to resettlement and complementary pathways such as skilled migration, community sponsorship and education options. 

“While resettlement aims to provide access to permanent safety for refugees in greatest need, we know from experience that an expansion of Australia’s refugee program will provide long-term benefits to the nation. 

“Since Federation in 1901, Australia has welcomed around 975,000 refugees. Those given the opportunity to start again in Australia free from past oppression have made life-long contributions to the nation’s economic, social and cultural life. 

“Refugees bring both youth and entrepreneurialism to Australia. New arrivals are on average around 15 years younger than the national median age and, after 10 years in Australia, are nearly twice as likely to be earning income from their own businesses. 

“In years to come, we can look forward to the refugees to be resettled in 2023-24 contributing to our nation in the same way as those welcomed five, 10, 20 or 40 years ago are today.” 

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