Unwelcome visitors: Challenges experienced by visitors to immigration detention (Full report)

The changing context in recent years On 1 July 2015, the Department of Immigration was merged with Australian Customs and Border Protection, and the Australian Border Force (ABF) was established. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) considers the ABF to be the ‘operational enforcement arm’ responsible for the operation of immigration detention. ABF works with detention service providers and directs day-to-day operations and oversees the management of those facilities. In its submission to the Senate inquiry into the Australian Border Force Bill in 2015, RCOA stated that its overriding concern regarding the merger of the Department of Immigration with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services was: the apparent shift away from a facilitation-centred approach to migration, refugee protection and citizenship to an enforcement-centred approach. The creation of the Australian Border Force suggests that enforcement is to become an overarching focus for all areas of the agency, rather than being limited to those sections which have a specific…

Read More

Unwelcome visitors: Challenges faced by people visiting immigration detention

Introduction In recent years,  people who visit immigration detention have expressed concerns about changes to rules and practices that have limited access for people visiting in detention. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), through its Detention Research Project, has interviewed visitors from across Australia to identify and record those challenges, and to make recommendations for addressing them. This report also records the significant role people who visit immigration detention make to those in detention. We outline in this report the critical role they play in supporting people in detention, the value they bring to these most vulnerable people, and the challenges they face in doing so.

Read More

Recent changes in Australian refugee policy

  Recent years have seen numerous changes to Australia’s refugee and asylum seeker policies, largely as a political response to an increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat (51,637 arrivals in the five years to December 2013) and a consequent increase in deaths at sea between Indonesia and Australia (at least 862 deaths recorded over the same period).[1] Both of Australia’s major political parties have attempted to address this issue through deterrence-based policies which block access to protection in Australia and impose penalties on people who arrive by boat. This document summarises some of the more recent policy changes. Refugee and Humanitarian Program During the 2012-13 financial year,[2] the size of Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian program was increased from 13,750 to 20,000 places, divided between offshore resettlement and onshore protection. This was the largest increase to the program in 30 years and resulted in an 87% rise in the number of offshore resettlement visas granted.…

Read More

Settlement Grants Program: Where does the money go?

The Settlement Grants Program is a Federal Government grant program that provides funding to organisations offering settlement support to new arrivals in Australia. The focus of the program is on providing services within the first five years to help people settle in Australia. This report analyses SGP grants still effective in 2017, and identifies where the money is going.
Read More

State of the Nation 2017: Refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Yet Australia’s approach in recent years has been to punish people seeking asylum, while increasing the numbers of refugees it resettles. This contrasting approach threatens the long and proud history Australia has of successful integration of refugee communities. This report reflects what we have heard from refugees and people seeking asylum, and the people supporting them
Read More

Visitors’ access to people in detention

In recent months, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has increasingly heard from these visitors that security conditions in immigration detention facilities are being ratcheted up and it is now more difficult to visit people in immigration detention. Correspondingly, people in immigration detention are increasingly isolated from the wider community, negatively impacting their mental and physical wellbeing. As a result, we have started a national study to explore those concerns further. The focus of this research is on access to people in onshore immigration detention facilities.
Read More