Refugee Council of Australia
Tents in Manus Island regional processing centre

Offshore processing statistics

How many people has Australia sent offshore? Where are they now?

How many people has Australia subjected to offshore processing?

Australia has transferred 4,245 people (including people transferred since September 2023, including 39 people in February 2024) since it restarted the policy of offshore processing on 13 August 2012, when it began sending people to PNG and Nauru for their refugee claims to be processed. Under this policy, as with Australia’s earlier policy on offshore processing, once recognised as refugees these people could settle in Australia.

However, on 19 July 2013, this policy changed, so that those sent offshore on or after this date would never be allowed to settle in Australia. Those sent offshore before 19 July 2013 were returned to Australia gradually, with the last arriving in October 2015, to enable the Australian Government to send people under this new policy.

The Australian Government sent 3,189 (including those sent since September 2023 and including those sent in February 2024) people sent offshore on or after 19 July 2013, and calls this group ‘transitory’ persons.

Note: these statistics have been updated to include the official statistics from February 2024. They do not yet include figures from a reported boat arrival on 5 April 2024, as the numbers from this boat have not yet been confirmed.

What has happened to people sent offshore?

The graph shows what has happened to those sent to offshore processing since 13 August 2012.

However, the outcomes have been very different for those who were transferred to offshore processing before and after 19 July 2013. These two graphs show what has happened to these different groups.

Those who were transferred before 19 July 2013 are mostly still in Australia, living in the community.

In contrast, about a third of those transferred since 19 July 2013 have been either resettled to a third country, another third are in Australia, and most of the rest have returned or been removed to their country of origin.

How many are still on PNG and Nauru?

On 24 June 2023, the last refugee on Nauru was reported to have flown into Brisbane. However, the Department's official statistics, and subsequent Senate evidence, confirms there were still two people on Nauru on 23 October 2023, as well as 11 transferred in September 2023, who are detained in the regional processing centre (see pp. 50, 59 of linked transcript). Most of these left, but another 12 people were transferred in November 2023.

In February 2024, another 39 people were transferred, and on 31 May 2024 there were 64 people still on Nauru.

The following graph shows the number of people on Nauru over time.

On 16 November 2023, the Guardian reported that there were 64 people left in PNG, following a previous report by UNHCR on 30 April 2023 that there were 84 people left in PNG (p. 112). When the arrangement with PNG ended in 31 December 2021, there were 106 people in PNG (including on person in PNG who was incarcerated). The Department no longer publishes data on the numbers left in PNG.

How many children have been born to people sent offshore? What has happened to them?

These figures do not include another 227 children born to people transferred to a regional processing country. The next chart shows where these children are now.

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