Refugee Council of Australia
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Offshore processing statistics

Key points

  • Since 13 August 2012, 4,177 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements (of which 3,127 were sent since 19 July 2013, when the then Prime Minister announced that they would no longer be resettled in Australia).
  • As of 30 September 2019, there were 562 people left in Nauru and in PNG, and another 47 detained by PNG. As of 21 October 2019, there were 3 men left on Manus Island.
  • As of 30 September 2019, 632 people had departed for the US.
  • Since the Medevac Bill was passed (as at 21 October 2019), 135 people have been transferred under its provisions, and another 39 have been approved and are awaiting transfer (although 10 are being detained by PNG).
  • In total, 1,117 people have been transferred to Australia for medical or other reasons up until 30 September 2019.
  • Re-opening and then closing Christmas Island has been budgeted at $185.2 million over two years. So far, $26.8 million has been spent, with over 100 staff on the island. Only four people (including two children) are being detained there.

About these 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. Most of the information in this page comes through information provided through Senate estimates. Usually, the information provided in this way is already outdated by the time it is provided (for example, for the round of Senate estimates on 21 October 2019, most information was provided as of 30 September 2019). 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.

The main information still provided regularly by the Department is the numbers removed or returned (‘voluntarily’ or involuntarily) from offshore processing countries 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.

For the sources, graphs and notes on the data, you can download the data underlying these graphs here.

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Contact us

Do you have a question about our statistics, or would you like to know more information? Contact us at policy@refugeecouncil.org.au.