Refugee Council of Australia
Bring Them Here rally park

A platform for change: Reforming Australian refugee policy

Reform detention

Reform of the immigration detention system

The problem

  • Detention for people with no visa status is by law mandatory, or in effect the ‘first resort’ rather than the ‘last resort’.
  • The system is deteriorating, with cruelty and dominance being used as tactics for control.
  • There is no time limit on detention, resulting in prolonged and indefinite detention.
  • There is no legislation that regulates the conditions of detention or its review, unlike in prisons.
  • Release from detention is almost entirely at the discretion of the Minister and the Department of Immigration, with no transparency over most matters.
  • Detention is only reviewed administratively and by some oversight bodies who can only make recommendations, and cannot be reviewed substantively by the courts.
  • Increased securitisation of detention through introduction of Australian Border Force, including inappropriate use of restraints in detention, reduced freedom of movement within facilities and limits on visitor access.
  • Laws requiring visas to be cancelled automatically, and empowering wide discretionary decisions resulting in detention, have significantly increased the population of those in detention, result in double and discriminatory punishment, and are not subject to independent or court review.

Proposed policy solution

Our vision: People seeking asylum in Australia are treated fairly and humanely with their human rights upheld. Mandatory, indefinite immigration detention ends and people seeking safety are free to live in the Australian community while their claims are transparently processed. A well-designed, risk-based triage process is implemented.
This can be achieved by a comprehensive review of immigration detention legislation, including:

Join us

We need you to show our government that Australia cares about refugees. Help us by joining the movement so we can protect refugees, not punish them.


  • Category

  • Topic