This timeline sets out Australia’s history of refugee policy and key events in Australia’s treatment of refugees. It is a selection of major events affecting refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia, drawn from official sources and media reports.
You can learn more about the events in this timeline on this website.
Refugees in Australia: a quick guide
Using the timeline
This timeline is best viewed on a desktop, because it is interactive. You can navigate using the arrows at the bottom of the screen. You can search for an event, zoom and you can see more events if you click on the ‘+’ or plus button on events that are grouped together. You can also see a description of each event if you click on the arrow next to it.
View the timeline (opens in full screen)
This timeline draws from several key sources:
- Barry York, Australia and Refugees, 1901-2002: An Annotated Chronology Based on Official Sources (2003)
- Elibritt Karlsen, Developments in Australian Refugee Law and Policy 2010-2011 (12 April 2012)
- Elibritt Karlsen, Developments in Refugee Law and Policy 2007- 10 Labor’s First Term in Office (19 October 2010)
- Janet Phillips, Developments in Australian Refugee Law and Policy (2012 to August 2013) (25 September 2014)
- Elibritt Karlsen and Janet Phillips, Developments in Australian Refugee Law and Policy: The Abbott and Turnbull Coalition Governments (2013-2016) (24 September 2017)
- Victoria Mence, Simone Gangell, and Ryan Tebb, A History of the Department of Immigration – Managing Migration to Australia (2017) . Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australia’s Immigration Detention Network (Submission, September 2011)
- ABC News, ‘Refugees’
- The Guardian (Australia edition), ‘Australian immigration and asylum’