Refugee Council of Australia
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The Federal Budget: What it means for refugees and people seeking humanitarian protection

2010-11 budget

Refugee and Humanitarian Program

The size of the Refugee and Humanitarian Program will remain unchanged. The program will continue to comprise of 6,000 offshore places for people referred through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), with the remaining 7,750 places reserved for the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) and onshore protection visa allocations. The Woman at Risk quota, which forms part of the 6,000 offshore places, will remain at 12%, after the increase from 5% to 12% in the 2009-10 budget.

General Migration Program

The general migration program will remain unchanged, with 168,700 places allocated in 2010- 11. The program will comprise of a skill stream equaling 113,850 places, a family stream of 54,550 places and 300 special eligibility places.

The overall level of skilled migration will increase by 5,750 places. This includes an additional 9,150 places for employer-sponsored skilled migration and a decrease of 3,600 places for general skilled migration. To offset the increase in the skilled migration program, the family migration program will be reduced by 5,750 places. This may impact on former refugees attempting to reunite with family outside of the SHP.

Settlement and associated services

The new Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program, which replaces the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS), has been allocated a total of $93 million (up from the $87 million allocated to IHSS in the previous year).

An additional $1.2 million will be available under the Settlement Grants Program (SGP), with the allocation for the SGP rising from $35.6 million to just under $36.9 million.

Total funding for the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) has increased slightly from $21.7 million to just under $22 million.

$3.4 million has been allocated for guardianship, monitoring and settlement support arrangements for Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (a slight increase from $3.3 million in the previous year). An additional contribution of $600,000 has been allocated for the construction of a multicultural centre in Mirrabooka, Western Australia. A contribution of $1 million towards the construction of the centre was included in the 2008-09 budget.

From 2010-11, the Diverse Australia Program and the National Action Plan to Build Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security will be amalgamated into the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program, to which $3.5 million has been allocated. This measure aims to produce a saving of $1.1 million over four years.

Onshore reception and processing of people seeking asylum

Funding for the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) for onshore asylum applicants has been increased from $2.6 million to around $3 million.

Payments to the Red Cross for delivery of the Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA) Scheme have increased by more than 80% from $5.6 million to over $10 million.

Immigration detention

$202 million will be allocated over five years (including $183.3 million in capital funding, and $18.7 million in related expenses) to expand accommodation for people seeking asylum. The measure provides for funding of $143.8 million for increased capacity at immigration detention facilities.

The measure also includes capital funding for a number of upgrades and enhancements to essential amenities and security at existing facilities, consisting of $22 million for Christmas Island, $15 million for the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin, $1.5 million for Villawood in Sydney and $1 million to upgrade existing residential facilities at Port Augusta (South Australia) for unaccompanied $800,000 additional funding will be allocated over two years to the Commonwealth Ombudsman to review the fairness of detention and immigration processes on Christmas Island.

Border and regional security measures

The Government allocated $1.2 billion over four years on a number of programs, initiatives and infrastructure. These include:

  • $759.4 million to be provided over four years for continued policing at Australian airports as part aviation security
  • $69.4 million over four years to introduce a biometric-based visa system for certain visa applicants (including those applying for protection). From 2010-11, visa applicants in ten overseas locations may be required to submit fingerprints and facial images, which would be matched against the biometric databases of Australia and partner countries
  • $32.9 million over four years to enhance Indonesia’s capacity to manage irregular migration flows in the region and to combat people-smuggling activities. This allocation also includes additional funding to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to support the Indonesian Government in upgrading a number of immigration detention facilities, as well as extra funding to the UNHCR towards the making of refugee status determinations
  • $42.6 million over four years to support the procurement, construction and commissioning process for eight new patrol vessels to replace the current Bay Class vessels. This funding will also be used to support crew training and anticipated additional crew, and vessel running costs.
  • $163.2 million over four years to continue initiatives to combat illegal foreign fishing
  • $15.7 million over two years to ensure the continued presence of a dedicated vessel at Ashmore Reef
  • $35.5 million to upgrade the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Savings have been identified for Customs and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which will aim to reduce expenditure by $146.3 million and $15.1 million respectively over four years.

Department of Immigration And Citizenship (DIAC) Operations

DIAC’s overall budget has increased from $1.8 billion to $2.2 DIAC has been required to make efficiency improvements in its operations, with a number of reductions occurring through how grants and programs are administered. This measure will provide savings of $9.4 million over four years.

The indexation of wage cost components of a number of settlement services will be amended as new contracts are entered into between 2010-11 and 2013-14. The three Settlement Services programs affected by this change are the Adult Migrant English program, the Humanitarian Settlement Services program and the Grants for Community Settlement Services Program (also known as the SGP).

DIAC will receive a total of $169.6 million over four years, including $41.7 million in 2010-11, to support and maintain the Systems for People IT program, initiated in 2006 in response to the limitations in information systems as identified within the Palmer and Comrie Reports.

The Refugee Council of Australia has been allocated a grant of $140,000 per year, starting in 2009-10, to provide advice to the Government on the views of the refugee and humanitarian non-government sector on the Australian Humanitarian Program, including resettlement and onshore protection, and on humanitarian settlement issues. This is a $20,000 increase on the funding received in 2009-10.

Overseas aid and multilateral assistance

Australia’s total aid budget has increased from $3.8 billion in 2009-10 to $4.3 billion in 2010-2011. This represents 0.33% of Gross National Income (GNI). The UN recommended aid allocation is 0.7% of GNI.

The Humanitarian, Emergency and Refugee Program component of the aid budget has increased slightly from $299.8 million to $301.5 million. This includes an allocation of $16 million for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (up from $14.3 million) and $7.5 million for the United Nations UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (up from $5.2 million). The International Committee of the Red Cross will receive $18 million (up from $16 million). The overall aid allocation to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific has remained steady at around $1.09 billion.

There has been a 23% increase in the overall aid allocation to Africa from $163.9 million in 2009-10 to $200.9 million in 2010-11. There has been an increase in the overall aid allocation to Central Asia and the Middle East, from $224.5 million to $273.8 million. This includes allocations of $66.5 million for Pakistan, $123.1 million for Afghanistan (up 39%) and $46.5 million for Iraq.

There has been an increase in the overall aid allocation to East Asia (including Indonesia) from $1.07 billion to $1.09 billion. This includes a 67% increase in the allocation to Burma, from $29.1 million to $48.6 million.

There has been an increase in the overall aid allocation to South Asia, from $149.9 million to $171.3 million. This includes a 62% increase in the allocation to India, from $13.7 million to $22.2 million; and an almost 30% increase in the allocation to Sri Lanka, from $35.6 million to $46 million.

$5.8 million will be allocated over two years to deploy two officers from DIAC to Kabul, Afghanistan to liaise with the Afghan Government and relevant international organisations to assist with the appropriate settlement and re-integration of returned Afghan nationals.

Broader human rights measures

The Human Rights Fund has been allocated $6.5 million (up from $5.8 million). The Australian Human Rights Commission has received a $2 million budget increase, with total resourcing for the agency rising from $17.8 million to $19.8 million.

$18.3 million has been allocated over four years to implement a new framework for the protection and promotion of human rights in Australia. The Australian Human Rights Framework will aim to raise human rights awareness in the community and the public sector through targeted education initiatives, increased parliamentary scrutiny, consolidated anti- discrimination laws and a National Action Plan on Human Rights.

As part of the Human Rights Framework, funding of $2 million will be provided over the next four years to non-government organisations for the development and delivery of human rights education and engagement programs for the community. An additional $6.6 million over four years will be allocated to the Australian Human Rights Commission to enable it to expand its community education role and to provide information and support for human rights education programs.

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