Refugee Council of Australia
Passport with Australia immigration stamp

Recent changes in Australian refugee policy

Border Force Act

The Australian Border Force (ABF) Act took effect on 1 July 2015. Its secrecy and disclosure provisions made it a crime for an “entrusted person” to make record of or disclose protected information. This was punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment.

Initially, an “entrusted person” could be an Immigration and Border Protection worker, including people engaged or employed by the Department of Immigration. This could include social workers, educators, and others contracted by the Australian Government to perform services on behalf of the Department. Ahead of a High Court challenge to these provisions, in October 2016 the Australian Government exempted health professionals working in detention from the provisions but the High Court challenge continued.

In August 2017, the secrecy provisions were amended significantly. It now only applies to information that may compromise Australia’s security, defence or international relations. The changes are retrospective, dating back to 1 July 2015 when the Border Force Act was enacted.

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