Refugee Council of Australia
Tents in Manus Island regional processing centre

Offshore processing statistics

Medical transfers

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.

About 1,220 people are in Australia as a ‘transitory person’ (964 from Nauru, and 256 from PNG) – that is, they were transferred to Australia for medical treatment or other reasons, but do not have a valid visa to stay in Australia and could be returned lawfully to Nauru or PNG. This graph shows where these people are in Australia and their visa status. 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) including hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane, rather than in community detention.

Column chart showing numbers of transitory persons

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 The law was repealed in December 2019.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.

Bar chart showing Medevac outcomes

Another 39 people had been approved for transfer by Australia under Medevac, but had not been approved by Nauru when the law was repealed. Of these, 20 were eventually transferred to Australia and another 10 transferred to Taiwan or PNG for medical treatment.

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