Refugee Council of Australia
Tents in Manus Island regional processing centre

Offshore processing statistics

People in Australia

How and how many are in Australia?

Of those sent to offshore processing since 13 August 2012, about half (2,063) were in Australia on 1 March 2020.

This figure includes those who were sent to Nauru and PNG before 19 July 2013, when the policy changed to prevent people from being resettled in Australia, and those already on Nauru and PNG who were transferred back to Australia.

As of October 2020, 1,226 people are reported to be a ‘transitory person’ in Australia – that is, they were transferred to Australia from PNG and Nauru for medical treatment or other reasons, but do not have a valid visa to stay in Australia and could be returned to Nauru or PNG.

Most of these people have been recognised as refugees.

Where are they?

This graph shows the latest statistics about where these people are now in Australia.

This breaks down where they are by state or territory.

The Medevac law

In 2019, a major change occurred when Parliament passed a law known as the Medevac legislation, which required the Minister to consider the views of independent doctors in determining whether a person should be transferred for medical treatment in Australia. The law was repealed in December 2019.

During that time, 192 people were transferred to Australia under the legislation, including 8 people who had been separated from their family from a previous transfer. Since then, another 45 people have been transferred to Australia by 1 March 2020.

This graph shows what happened to those people who had been approved under Medevac, but had not yet left Nauru or PNG when the law was repealed.

Another 26 people have been transferred for medical treatment since the end of Medevac (1 in July 2020, and 25 in September 2020), according to statistics from Australian Border Force.

Alternative Places of Detention

A significant shift that has occurred is that most of those brought as a result of the Medevac legislation are now in detention, including in so-called ‘Alternative Places of Detention’ (APODs). These include motels in Melbourne and Brisbane.

This graph shows how many people have been recognised as refugees in Alternative Places of Detention, by state or territory.

This graph shows how long people have been held in these ‘Alternative Places of Detention’.

Held detention, community detention and bridging visas

People transferred from offshore processing do not have a valid visa, so are subject to Australia’s detention policies. This requires them to be detained, unless the Minister exercises a power to release them from detention.

Australia’s detention policies

This graph shows the length of time people transferred from offshore processing have spent in held detention.

In the past, people transferred from offshore processing were released into ‘community detention’, through the Minister’s use of a ‘residence determination’. This meant that they had to live in specific housing in the community, subject to some restrictions on movement.

Others have  been granted ‘bridging visas’. These also can only be granted if the Minister allows it. This graph shows the number of bridging visas granted since 1 July 2018.

In August and September 2020, the Minister granted bridging visas E to a significant number of people who had previously been in community detention, including families with children. This left them without housing and with very limited support.

This graph shows the numbers released during this period.

This graph shows the states where they were living.

This graph provides a further breakdown of their age and gender.

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