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Offshore processing statistics

About these statistics

The Australian Government does not provide many statistics regularly on offshore processing. The statistics on how many people are on Nauru and PNG, their nationality, the number of transfers, and the number resettled to the US or other countries is not provided regularly. Most of the information in this page comes through information provided through Senate estimates. Usually, the information provided in this way is already outdated by the time it is provided (for example, for the round of Senate estimates in October 2018, most information was provided as of 22 October or 30 September 2018, although the answers were not available until late December). As well, it should be noted that there are limitations and gaps in the data as the information depends on the way the question was asked and the frequency with which it is asked.

The main information still provided regularly by the Department is the numbers removed or returned (‘voluntarily’ or involuntarily) from offshore processing countries through its monthly updates on Operation Sovereign Borders, which began in September 2013. The numbers living in the Regional Processing Centres was also published in these updates as well as more detailed breakdowns in the Department of Home Affairs’ monthly detention statistics.

For the sources, graphs and notes on the data, you can download the data underlying these graphs here.

Key points

  • Since 13 August 2012, 4,177 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements (of which 3,127 were sent since 19 July 2013, when the then Prime Minister announced that they would no longer be resettled in Australia).
  • As of 26 March 2019, there were 359 people left in Nauru and 547 left in PNG (a total of 915 people)
  • As of 26 March 2019, 508 people had departed for the US
  • Up till 18 February 2019, there had been 1,246 people transferred to Australia for medical reasons (including accompanying family members) since offshore processing began. By 26 March 2019, there were 953 still remaining in Australia
  • In 2017-2018, 35 people were transferred to Australia primarily for medical reasons. In 2018-2019 up until 26 March 2019, 461 people had been transferred to Australia
  • As of 6 April 2019, 1 person had been transferred to Australia under the Medevac legislation, and that person had not been transferred to Christmas Island
  • Re-opening and then closing Christmas Island has been budgeted at $185.2 million over two years, with approximately 140 security staff and 14 health care workers on the island although not one person had been transferred as at 6 April 2019.

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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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