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Home > Media > The 2024-25 Federal Budget: What it means for refugees and people seeking humanitarian protection

The 2024-25 Federal Budget: What it means for refugees and people seeking humanitarian protection

KEY POINTS: 

  • The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will remain at 20,000 places in 2024-25 while the Migration Program planning level will be set at 185,000 places. 
  • Refugee settlement support services will see additional funding of $120.9 million over five years to “improve the sustainability of settlement services and promote better economic and social outcomes for refugees and migrants”. 
  • The Government has allocated $2.9 million over two years for support for people who have fled the crisis in Gaza and Israel and $1.9 million over five years to extend access to Medicare for Ukrainians on Bridging Visas. 
  • The Government has allocated $1.0 billion over five years to set up the new merits review system, the Administrative Review Tribunal. 
  • Less than half of the budget allocation for support for people seeking asylum was spent, even though the need has been growing. 
  • Allocations for immigration compliance and deterrence measures again far outstrip funding for support and assistance. 

2024-25 Budget summary Refugee Council
Size : 307 kB Format : PDF

HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM 

The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will remain at 20,000 places in 2024-25, the level set in 2023-24. The Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) will be extended by one year to June 2026. Despite recent discussion about the possible development of an education pathways for refugees similar to programs in other countries, there was no funding allocated to the proposed Refugee Student Settlement Pathway in the 2024-25 Budget. 

SETTLEMENT SERVICES 

The Government will provide $120.9 million over five years from 2023-24 to “improve the sustainability of settlement services and promote better economic and social outcomes for refugees and migrants”. The funding includes: 

  • $86.6 million over five years from 2023–24 for the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) to support settlement service delivery for refugees and migrants 
  • $27 million over three years from 2024–25 to extend targeted support, including: 
  • Youth Transition Support services to assist refugee and migrant youth to access education, employment and government services 
  • specialised support for refugee and migrant women experiencing domestic and family violence as part of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program 
  • settlement support for Afghan humanitarian entrants 
  • $3.8 million over four years from 2024–25 to continue conversational English classes in Community Hubs 
  • $1.9 million over five years from 2023–24 to extend access to Medicare for Ukrainians and their immediate family members, who hold a Bridging visa E, until 30 June 2027 
  • $1.0 million in 2025–26 to extend the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) to 30 June 2026, to continue community sponsorship of refugees with the support of the community.  

The Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program will be funded to $226 million over the next three years. 

ASSISTANCE FOR PEOPLE ON TEMPORARY VISAS FROM GAZA AND UKRAINE 

The Government has extended support provided to people fleeing Ukraine and the Gaza Crisis.  

$2.9 million over two years from 2023–24 will be provided to support individuals and their families from significantly affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Funding includes:  

  • $2.0 million over two years from 2023–24, for the Australian Red Cross to provide emergency financial assistance to recent arrivals and who have been assessed to be in financial hardship   
  • $0.9 million over two years from 2023–24 to extend Medicare eligibility to 30 June 2025 for Bridging Visa E holders arriving from significantly affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  The costs of emergency financial assistance will be met from within the existing resourcing of the Department of Home Affairs.   

$1.9 million over five years from 2023–24 will also be provided to extend access to Medicare for Ukrainians and their immediate family members, who hold a Bridging visa E, until 30 June 2027. 

ASSISTANCE FOR PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM 

Estimated expenditure on payments for Asylum Seeker Support administered by Services Australia for Asylum Seeker Support will be just $16.4 million in 2023-24, less than half of the $36.9 million allocated in last year’s Budget. For 2024-25, just $17 million has been allocated. Spending on this vital program has been cut by 95% since 2015-16, from $300 million to just $16 million. See Appendix B for further information. 

ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW SYSTEM 

The Government is reforming the administrative review system by abolishing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and introducing the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART), subject to legislation passing in Parliament. The Government will provide $1.0 billion over five years from 2023–24 to establish and support the sustainable operation of the new ART and to address court backlogs due to the high numbers of applications for judicial review of migration and asylum decisions. This includes: 

  • $854.3 million over four years from 2024–25 (and $208.8 million per year ongoing) for a capped, flexible demand-driven funding model for the ART. The Government hopes to finalise 100 per cent of case lodgements each year and including improved regional accessibility and piloting First Nations Liaison Officer and user experience and accessibility programs. 
  • $75.1 million over five years from 2023–24 (and $2.0 million per year ongoing) to support agencies with the transition from the AAT to the ART. 
  • $2.4 million in 2024–25 to the AAT for the Immigration Assessment Authority to continue merits review of unsuccessful protection visa applications eligible for fast-track review until the commencement of the ART.  The Government has already provided partial funding for this measure.   

The Government will also provide $115.6 million over four years from 2024–25 (and an additional $194.2 million from 2028–29 to 2035–36) to address high migration backlogs in the federal courts, including through the establishment of two migration hubs dedicated to hearing migration and protection matters. 

ONSHORE DETENTION AND COMPLIANCE 

The Government has allocated $1.16 billion on immigration detention and compliance, down from the $1.25 billion spent this year. It will provide funding over three years from 2024-25 (including capital funding) to improve security at the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre. The cost of this measure will not be revealed until contracts are finalised. 

The Government has allocated $5.6 million over four years from 2024-25 (and $0.7 million per year ongoing) to the Attorney General’s Department to administer the Community Safety Order (CSO) scheme, including extending the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund to cover legal assistance in CSO proceedings, as part of the Government’s response to the High Court’s decision in NZYQ v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs & Anor. 

OFFSHORE PROCESSING 

The Government has allocated $604.4 million for offshore processing in 2024-25, an increase of $40.6 million on actual spending in 2023-24. The total allocation for offshore processing since the policy was reintroduced in 2012 is now $12.8 billion. 

BORDER SURVEILLANCE, ENFORCEMENT AND MANAGEMENT 

The Government has allocated over $2 billion on border enforcement and management, with $1.43 billion allocated for border enforcement and $585.9 million for border management. 

This includes additional funding of $71.2 million over two years from 2023-24 to increase the Australian Border Force’s on-water response and aerial surveillance capabilities. 

The Department of Home Affairs has been allocated $100 million in 2024-25 alone for core functions including “Australian Border Force operations, immigration compliance activities and sustainment of critical systems supporting those operations and services”.   

MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS AND CITIZENSHIP 

The Government will provide $4 million over two years from 2024-25 to support Together for Humanity to deliver initiatives aimed at strengthening intercultural and interfaith understanding and building culturally safe schools. 

$3.4 million in 2024-25 will be provided for projects to improve cultural competency and enhance integrity for the Australian Public Service staff. 

The Budget papers note that the Department of Home Affairs is at risk of not meeting its performance target of 90 per cent of citizenship by conferral applications finalised within agreed timeframes from lodgement to decision. 

FAMILY VIOLENCE SUPPORT FOR TEMPORARY VISA HOLDERS 

The Government will make permanent the Leaving Violence Program (LVP) that will provide financial support, safety assessments and referrals to support services for victim-survivors leaving a violent intimate partner relationship. Included in the program is funding of $152.3 million over three years from 2023–24 to extend and expand the Escaping Violence Payment and the Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot trials to 30 June 2025, and to continue to provide support services for a further 12 weeks beyond the pilot end date for active cases. The LVP will replace these trials. There is also $16.5 million over five years from 2023–24 (and $5.1 million in 2028–29) to continue to provide legal assistance for temporary visa holders leaving a violent relationship. 

In addition, $6.1 million over four years from 2024–25 (and $1.6 million per year ongoing) will be provided for continued specialised support for visa holders experiencing domestic and family violence through the Domestic and Family Violence visa support service. 

MIGRATION PROGRAM AND ADDRESSING WORKER EXPLOITATION 

The Government will set the 2024-25 permanent Migration Program planning level at 185,000 places, down from 190,000 places in 2023-24. Of these, 132,200 places (approximately 70%) will be allocated to the Skill stream, with the Partner and Child visa to remain demand-driven. From 2025-26, the Government will utilise multi-year planning, extending the planning for the permanent Migration Program from one year to four years.  

In its continuation of migration system reform, the Government will provide $18.3 million over four years from 2024-25. Funding includes $15.0 million over three years from 2024-25 for information and education activities to provide migrant workers with accurate and appropriate information about workplace safeguards, protections and compliance measures related to migration laws and $1.9 million in 2024-25 to conduct a data-matching pilot between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office of income and employment data to mitigate exploitation of migrant workers and abuse of Australia’s labour market and migration system.  

OVERSEAS HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE 

Australia’s baseline Overseas Development Assistance funding has increased from $4.063 billion spent in 2023-24 to $4.245 billion allocated in 2024-25. Within this, $490.5 million is allocated to “humanitarian, emergencies and refugees”, a 11.1 million increase on the current year. UNHCR has been allocated $25 million, the same as the previous year. Likewise, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been allocated $20 million which is the same as 2023-24. Australia will provide a total of $676 million in humanitarian sector funding in 2024–25, a 33 million increase from last year. This includes more than $120 million in flexible funding for global humanitarian partners to meet needs where they are most acute, such as in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Despite the small overall increase in the aid budget, Australia’s overseas development assistance in 2024-25 will remain the same at 0.19% of gross national income. For more detail, see the Australian Council for International Development’s Budget analysis. 

 

You can download our full budget analysis here.

2024-25 Budget summary Refugee Council
Size : 307 kB Format : PDF

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