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The Department of Immigration and Border Protection publishes monthly updates on Operation Sovereign Borders, which began in September 2013. These provide information on how many people are in our processing centres, boat turnbacks, refugee status determination and returns from offshore processing centres and detention in Australia.

This page summarises some of the key data.

These graphs are interactive. You can move your cursor over the graphs to find out more information.

Note: The number of people for August 2016 includes 16 people in Port Moresby for medical reasons. 

How many people are there, and where are they?

The early days of Operation Sovereign Borders saw a rapid increase in the numbers sent to Manus Island.  In January 2014, the numbers peaked at 1,353 people. Since then, there has been a slow decline until October 2017, when there were 690 men before the centre was closed. There are no women on Manus. According to the Department at least, there are also no children.

The trend on Nauru was similar. The numbers there peaked at 1,233 people in August 2014. The changes in the numbers of women and children are similar to those for the population as a whole. However, the rate at which children left Nauru is slower.

Note: As of 17 October 2016, it was confirmed in Senate estimates that there were 29 boats turned back with 740 people turned back. However, the graph only includes details of the 27 boats to the extent which there is public information.

Boat turnbacks 

The turning back of boats has not been as regularly reported, with many details still unclear to the public. While the number of boats and crew being irregularly turned back is low, the numbers of people on the boats varies significantly. However, the apparent ‘peaks’ in this graph are partly caused by unknown data for some boats.

As at 31 October 2017.

Refugee status determination on Manus

Despite the government’s rhetoric, even with the unfair refugee status determination process on Manus Island, the percentage of decisions (initial and final) recognising these people as refugees is currently 71%.

The making of decisions took a long time to start, and increased very quickly in the first quarter of 2016. Since June 2017, there have been no new decisions.

As at 31 October 2017.

Refugee status determination on Nauru

The process on Nauru has reportedly been much fairer, and this is reflected also in the very high number of decisions recognising them as refugees: 1,062 positive decisions, with only 154 negative decisions.

Returns from Australia and offshore processing centres

The Department’s monthly updates do not say whether a person is returned from Nauru or Manus Island. There has been a consistent, small number of people who voluntarily depart from the processing centres. The graph also illustrates returns from detention in Australia (voluntary or forced).