Refugee Council of Australia
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Settlement services

The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP)

On 30 October 2017, the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) replaced the Humanitarian Settlement Services program (HSS) and Complex Case Support (CCS). The previous Complex Case Support program is now part of the HSP, and is called Specialised and Intensive Services (SIS).

The HSP provides settlement support to newly arrived refugee and humanitarian entrants. It aims to build their skills and knowledge so they can become self-reliant and active members of the Australian community. Case managers develop individualised plans and tailored services for those coming to Australia under the Refugee and Humanitarian Program.

Through a case management approach, the needs of refugee entrants are identified and settlement services tailored to meet their particular circumstances. Clients leave the HSP program when they achieve settlement outcomes in their case plan, typically between six to 18 months of coming to Australia. This extends the timeline from the previous HSS program, where services were generally provided for six to twelve months, but may be extended for particularly vulnerable clients.

Read about The Humanitarian Settlement Program

Who is eligible?

Humanitarian Settlement Program

Clients are eligble for HSP if they hold:

  • Refugee category (subclass 200, 201, 203 and 204) visas or;
  • Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visas, except under the Community Support Program (unless approved by the Department of Social Services).

People seeking asylum are not eligible for the HSP. Since 30 August 2013, those who apply for protection in Australia have not been eligible for services under the former Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), although previously unaccompanied minors were exempt, as were those granted protection in immigration detention. It is expected that proposers under the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) will be the main source of support to new entrants, although there are mechanisms for assessing and identifying the capacity and needs of the proposer, and ensuring HSP services are extended where gaps are identified.

Specialised and Intensive Services (SIS)

People may be eligible to receive SIS if they hold one of the following visas:

  • Refugee (subclass 200, 201, 203 and 204) visa
  • Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa
  • Protection (subclass 866) visa
  • Temporary Protection (subclass 785), Temporary Humanitarian Stay (subclass 449), Temporary Humanitarian Concern (subclass 786) and Safe Haven Enterprise (subclass 790) visas.

They may be eligible for SIS for up to five years after their arrival in Australia, or up to five years after the grant of their eligible onshore visa, although there is flexibility in exceptional circumstances. There is also flexibility  in exceptional cases in relation to people holding other kinds of visas, but it is not available to Australian citizens. A person can only receive SIS if approved by the Department of Social Services. They must demonstrate an inability to independently engage with appropriate supports and be impacted by multiple or complex barriers that may include:

  • disability
  • health needs that are severe, critical, long term and/or unmanaged mental health issues
  • homelessness or housing instability
  • domestic or family violence
  • child and youth welfare concerns
  • family and/or relationship breakdown
  • social isolation
  • financial hardship, and
  • legal issues.

Any organisation or individual can refer a person for SIS, including the person who needs the support, by filling in the referral form. If you are unsure of whether a person is eligible for SIS, you can email


In the HSP, case managers work with clients to develop an individualised case management plan and deliver tailored services. At the beginning, they typically:

  • receive people at the airport
  • provide initial housing, food and essential items
  • help them to register with key services including Centrelink, Medicare and banks
  • address their immediate health needs
  • tell them what to do in an emergency and how to access interpreters, and
  • introduce them to local services.

They also generally deliver an orientation program, help clients to find long-term accommodation, support them to access mainstream services and connections to local community groups and activities, support them to register with the Adult Migrant English Program and attend lessons, help them enrol in education and training, and support them to access employment services and services to help them start their own business.

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