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

2022-23 October Budget

Key points:

  • $20 million for the AMEP to increase case management support for students and access to flexible delivery options
  • $42.2 million over two years (with $40.9 million this year) to increase visa processing in the Department of Home Affairs
  • $18.4 million over four years for additional 3 year Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas to Ukrainians and to extend Medicare for 12 months for Ukrainians on Bridging Visas.
  • $12.6 million over two years for a pilot program to assist Temporary Visa Holders who are experiencing domestic violence
  • An increase of $150 million in spending this financial year on offshore processing, expanding the 2022-23 allocation to $632.5 million
  • The Government will provide $1.4 billion in additional Official Development Assistance over 4 years from this financial year to rebuild Australia’s international development program, with focus on the Pacific and Southeast Asia
  • $1.0 million over two years to conduct a review of Australia’s multicultural policy settings to support efforts to strengthen social cohesion
  • $18.2 million over four years to establish a Community Language Schools Grants program to support more young Australians to learn a second language
  • The Government will provide $7.5 million over four years from 2022–23 (and $1.4 million per year ongoing) for the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop a National Anti-Racism Strategy and to extend the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign
  • There were no additional places announced for the Refugee and Humanitarian Program, despite Labor’s commitment to increasing the program. The Migration Program will increase to 195,000 places per year, up 35,000 places

Offshore processing

The budget for offshore processing has increased by $150 million this financial year, expanding the Morrison Government’s 2022-23 allocation to $632.5 million

Since Australia’s offshore detention centres were reopened by the Gillard Government in 2012-13, successive governments have spent $11.654 billion on offshore detention and processing arrangements – $9.547 billion since the current version of offshore processing began in 2013-14. See the analysis of the year-by-year spending from 2012-2023 at Appendix B.

Adult Migrant English Program

$20 million has been allocated for an increase to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to increase case management support for students and access to flexible delivery options. This follows Labor’s pre-election commitment to increase accessibility to English learning for people with caring responsibilities and other barriers to formal classroom learning.

Increased visa processing

An additional $42.2 million has been allocated to visa processing, including employing an additional 500 staff within the Department of Home Affairs. This increase (of which $40.9 million has been allocated to this financial year) was foreshadowed at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit. People seeking safety in Australia have been waiting for an average of two years for an Onshore Protection visa and even longer, in many cases, for refugee resettlement from another country.

Support for people from Ukraine

$18.4 million over four years from 2022–23 has been allocated for additional 3 year Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas (subclass 786) to Ukrainians in 2022–23. This includes extending access to Medicare for a 12 month period for Ukrainians, including their immediate family members, who hold a Bridging Visa E.

$0.6 million in additional funding in 2022–23 has also been allocated for the Ukrainian Community and Settlement Support program to provide further support for the ongoing settlement and integration needs of those arriving in Australia from Ukraine.

Support for temporary visa holders experiencing domestic violence

$12.6 million over two years has been allocated for a pilot program to assist Temporary Visa Holders who are experiencing domestic violence.

Increased Migration Program

As announced at the Jobs and Skills Summit, the Government will increase the 2022–23 permanent Migration Program planning level from 160,000 to 195,000. Priority will be given to offshore applicants and on-hand applications for the Skilled Independent visa – New Zealand stream.

This measure is estimated to increase receipts by $935.0 million and increase payments by $487.2 million over the four years from 2022–23.

Despite Labor’s pledge in its national platform to expand the Humanitarian Program progressively to 27,000 places per year with 5,000 additional places for community sponsorship, this Budget sees the program remain at the level set up the Morrison Government – 13,750 places in the general program and 4,125 additional places for refugees from Afghanistan.

Multicultural policies

The Government has set aside $1.0 million over 2 years to conduct a review of Australia’s multicultural policy settings to support efforts to strengthen social cohesion. It has also allocated $18.2 million over 4 years to establish a Community Language Schools Grants program to support more young Australians to learn a second language.

The inclusion of $7.5 million over four years from 2022–23 (and $1.4 million per year ongoing) for the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop a National Anti-Racism Strategy and to extend the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign is welcome.

International aid and development

The Government will provide $1.4 billion in additional Official Development Assistance over 4 years from 2022–23 to Australia’s international development program. Funding includes:

  • $900.0 million to increase support to the Pacific region
  • $470.0 million to increase support to Southeast Asia
  • $30.0 million through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program to increase the capacity of Australian non-government organisations to promote inclusive development
  • $26.6 million in additional departmental resourcing for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for program administration.

October 2022 Budget Summary
Size : 178.6 kB Format : PDF

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