In December 2014, the Australian Government changed the way it determined the refugee claims of people who came by boat. The Australian Government calls this new process ‘fast tracking‘. This affects people who came by boat on or after 13 August 2012.
There are also people who came before 13 August 2012, but did not have their protection visa application finalised by 18 September 2013. These people are assessed under the old process. The two groups are referred to by the Department as the ‘Legacy Caseload’.
‘Fast tracking’ replaced the previous independent merits review system with a new body, called the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA). Under new rules, the IAA would no longer hear directly from people claiming asylum, and would generally be restricted to information before the Department of Immigration.
The Refugee Council and its members have consistently expressed strong concerns about the fairness of this process and the significant risks it creates that people will be returned to persecution or other serious harm.
Key points (as at 2 May 2019)
- There are still 8,985 people waiting for a decision by the Department of Home Affairs
- Most are still being granted protection, with 70% of people in the Legacy Caseload being granted protection, with a higher rate of 71.5% for Safe Haven Enterprise Visas
- Most of them are waiting in Victoria (4,682) and NSW (3,359) with significant numbers also in South Australia (436) and Queensland (274)
- Most of those still waiting are from Iran (36%), Sri Lanka (16%), stateless (12%), Afghanistan (10%)
- Almost all of them (8,893) are living in the community on a Bridging Visa E, but there are still 81 of them in held detention
- As of the end of March 2019, there were 206 active cases before the Immigration Assessment Authority, and it made 154 decisions on cases in that month
- Since July 2016, it has made 6,085 decisions
- It is taking a median 51 days to make its decisions (almost halving the median time at December 2018, although at that time there were many more active decisions)
- It is only remitting the Department’s decisions (saying that they were made wrongly and sending them back) in between fewer than 1% and 30% of cases, by key countries of origin, with a total remittal rate of 12%
- This compares with previous rates of remittal of between 66-87%.