What is offshore processing?
Since 13 August 2012, Australia has resumed sending people to Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea under a policy of offshore processing. Since 19 July 2013, the Australian Government’s policy is that none of these people will ever be resettled in Australia, even if they are recognised as refugees.
How many people have been offshore? How many are still there? Where have they ended up? This page consolidates a range of offshore processing statistics, from official and unofficial sources.
This graph shows the latest official statistics for some key figures, mostly from March 2020.
* For an explanation of the difference between the number who have been subjected to offshore processing, and the number of transitory persons in Australia, please see the discussion in Medical transfers.
About the offshore processing statistics
The Australian Government does not provide many statistics regularly on offshore processing. The statistics on how many people are on Nauru and PNG, their nationality, the number of transfers, and the number resettled to the US or other countries is not provided regularly. Since January 2020, however, the Department has been publishing monthly updates on the numbers still in PNG and Nauru, and the numbers resettled. This page includes those statistics, last provided for 31 March 2020.
Most of the information in this page has been provided through Senate estimates. Usually, the information provided in this way is already outdated by the time it is provided. As well, it should be noted that there are limitations and gaps in the data as the information depends on the way the question was asked and the frequency with which it is asked. At times, there are also discrepancies in the information provided.
The Department continues to provide the numbers removed or returned (‘voluntarily’ or involuntarily) from offshore processing countries, and now transferred from and to regional processing centres, through its monthly updates on Operation Sovereign Borders, which began in September 2013. The numbers living in the Regional Processing Centres was also published in these updates as well as more detailed breakdowns in the Department of Home Affairs’ monthly detention statistics.