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 4,183 people 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 3,127 people sent offshore on or after 19 July 2013, and calls this group ‘transitory’ persons.

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 flown into Brisbane. (According to official statistics, however, there were still at least two people on Nauru on 31 August 2023). This followed a decrease in recent months, with the last monthly report from 30 April 2023 stating there were 32 refugees, and on 22 May 2023, the Australian Government reporting there were 22 people in Nauru (p. 110 of linked file).

UNHCR reported that on 30 April 2023, there were 84 people left in PNG (p. 112). When the arrangement with PNG ended in 31 December 2021, there were 105 people in PNG (excluding people in PNG who were 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 224 children born to people transferred to a regional processing country. The next chart shows where these children are now.

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