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Offshore processing statistics

Medical transfers

Up until 18 February 2019, there have been 1,246 people transferred to Australia for medical reasons (including accompanying family members) since offshore processing began. As of 26 March 2019, there were 953 still in Australia.

As of 26 March 2019, 461 people had been transferred in the 2018-2019 financial year to date, compared to 35 in the previous full financial year. These numbers appear to include family members.

The graph below refers to a previous breakdown in Senate estimates by financial year of those who had been transferred for medical reasons (in this case, excluding family members), which was provided up until 22 October 2018, when 535 people had been transferred for medical reasons. The numbers rose sharply in 2014-2015 (when 254 people were transferred), and then dropped significantly back in the following years, until the current financial year. Of those, 79 were children.

Medical transfers by court order and under the Medevac legislation

A major reason for the increase in medical transfers in this financial year has been that lawyers have been successful in getting courts to order the transfer of sick people from Nauru. According to Senate estimates on 18 February 2019, so far this financial year, there have been 34 orders for transfer made by courts, compared to three in the previous financial year and only one before that. In 81 cases involving 209 people, the Department transferred people after lawyers engaged with the Department. According to the Department, 134 people were transferred in about 51 cases.

Since the passing of the Medevac Bill in February 2019, only one person has so far been transferred as at 6 April 2019, according to Senate estimates. That person was transferred to mainland Australia, not Christmas Island.

In previous statistics provided in October 20 of those cases, the primary applicant was a child, and in another 6 there were children in the family group. In 30 cases, the court ordered transfer to a specific State, hospital or medical facility. These graphs also show the applications by country of origin (with 22 of them being from Iran).

How many people need medical transfers?

As at 22 October 2018, there were 9 people in both Nauru and Manus who had been ‘clinically recommended’ for transfer. 21 people had been approved for transfer from Nauru, and none from PNG.

As explored in detail in our reports on Nauru and Manus Island, there is every reason to believe that independent scrutiny will reveal more people need to be transferred for medical treatment.

People in Australia for medical reasons

As of 26 March 2019, there are 953 people in Australia who had been transferred for medical reasons, including those who came as family members (called ‘transitory persons’ by the Government).

A more detailed breakdown was provided in earlier Senate estimates, but only of those who were transferred for medical reasons (excluding family members). Most of these people (403) are in community detention. 39 are in held detention, and 149 are on Final Departure Bridging E visas. On these visas, the people are released into the community but do not have access to any income support. These graphs show the numbers of these people by visa status and by location.

Learn more about Australia’s detention policies

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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.

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