Find a visa Find the right visa for your needs

DIMIA Annual Report 2004-05

Output 1.3-Enforcement of immigration law


Diploma in Forensic Document Examination

Until 2005 no accredited training in document examination was offered in Australia. The department is part of a joint effort with Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Western Australia Police Service working with Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to develop formal training to provide professional career development for our document examiners. This training will ensure that the decisions they make about genuineness of travel and other documents presented in visa applications will stand up to the rigours of court examination.

By 30 June 2005, the first enrolment of students in the Diploma in Forensic Document Examination had completed the first semester of their studies together with their fellow students from state and federal police services.

Entitlement Verification On-Line System

The department enhanced its services to Australian employers through the implementation of the Entitlement Verification On-Line (EVO) system. EVO allows registered employers, labour suppliers, licensing authorities and educational institutions to check work rights or study entitlements of visa holders in Australia. Introduction of EVO has led to a sustained increase in the number of employers and labour suppliers conducting work rights checks, with a consequent improvement in Australia's efforts to exclude illegal workers from the labour market.

National Identity Verification & Advice

The department created a National Identity Verification & Advice (NIVA) section to help case managers identify persons of immigration compliance interest. NIVA seeks to ensure that cases involving complex and potentially sensitive identity issues are identified as early as possible and handled in a consistent and expeditious manner.


On 2 May 2005 we created an Identity Policy section within the Identity Fraud and Biometrics branch to meet an emerging need. This section is developing departmental policy to deal with identity management, identity fraud, and legislation and privacy issues as they relate to identity and biometrics, within the context of whole-of government identity security and international standards.

The initial effort will be focused on developing policies and procedures for registration and enrolment of clients at visa application. They will be used to verify and authenticate a client's identity.

People trafficking

The department continues to play an active role in the whole-of-government response to people trafficking. This includes identifying indicators of people trafficking and referring cases to the AFP for assessment and possible investigation. Between 1999 and June 2005 we referred 126 cases involving 159 suspected victims of trafficking to the AFP for assessment-investigation action was taken in about 60 per cent of cases. The AFP has charged 14 alleged offenders with people trafficking offences.

The visa arrangements introduced on 1 January 2004 support law enforcement efforts and this includes bridging visa F, witness protection (trafficking), visa-temporary and witness protection (trafficking), visa-permanent. Between 1 January 2004 and 30 June 2005, 42 bridging F visas were granted to suspected victims of trafficking, with 23 of these progressing to criminal justice stay visas (CJSVs) at the request of the AFP. During the same period 26 people were granted CJSVs and two people were granted criminal justice entry visas. As at 30 June 2005, no witness protection (trafficking) visas have been granted.

Profiling of trends around incidence of people trafficking is a key focus for the department. The work of the Senior Migration Officer (Compliance) positioned in Thailand contributes to this activity, as does our work with the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) on the special intelligence operation into people trafficking for sexual exploitation.

back to top

People smuggling

The department works closely with the AFP on people smuggling issues. The joint People Smuggling Strike Team (PSST) has achieved considerable success with prosecution and extradition. Six matters went before the courts resulting in two convictions. In a separate matter, a retrial was ordered after the conviction was quashed.


  • In one of the matters, the convictions were made for two counts of offences against s232A of the Migration Act 1958, resulting in an eight-year imprisonment and a six-year imprisonment.
  • In the other matter, the convictions were made for two counts of offences against s232A of the Migration Act 1958, resulting in a 10-year imprisonment and a 12-year imprisonment.

Migration Agents Taskforce

The Migration Agents Taskforce (MATF), which targets activities of selected registered and unregistered migration agents suspected of being involved in organised malpractice and criminal activity, is investigating 22 primary targets nationally. Other regional investigations resources are also focusing on migration agents.

As a result of MATF activity, one agent has been charged with nine breaches of the Migration Act 1958. Further briefs for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution are being prepared in relation to other agents. Ten agents under investigation by MATF have voluntarily de-registered or lost their agent status as a result of action by the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Two co-offenders of MATF targets have had visas cancelled.


The department is placing a greater focus on the role played by intermediaries. Intermediaries include migration agents, education agents, labour hire companies as well as some state and territory authorities.

The MATF works closely with other agencies such as the ACC, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Centrelink and the AFP to collect evidence and apply appropriate sanctions. The department works with the AFP as part of the joint PSST. It works closely with education providers, education agents and students to ensure that the provisions of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (the National Code) and the Migration Act 1958 are met.

During 2004-05 the department engaged a range of licensing and registration bodies to help them with identifying a person's lawful status and entitlement to work. A coordinated strategy is being developed to identify and target the operations of labour hire intermediaries engaging in illegal activities.

Movement Alert List Review

The Movement Alert List (MAL) is the department's principal electronic alert system and an integral part of Australia's national security and border control strategy.

The 2003-04 Budget funded a wide-ranging review of the purpose, architecture and operation of the MAL. The review found that although MAL is a robust system and has served the department well over many years, it was designed for a different national security environment, with a much smaller number of records, mostly related to immigration and criminal matters, and was largely intended for the department's own use. In the current heightened security environment MAL has been transformed into a whole-of-government front-line tool for the 'War on Terror' and fraud.

The review's main recommendation was the establishment of a centralised onshore MAL Centre to assess MAL matches; currently, assessments are made by hundreds of officers across the world. The MAL Centre will lead to more effective business processes through a small co-located team working around the clock. Development of the MAL Centre and related IT system changes have been funded through the 2005-06 Budget. Actions taken in 2004-05 to implement review recommendations include revamped arrangements for MAL operator training, increased staff resources and better handling arrangements for the resolution of 'national security' type alerts.

back to top

Indian Ocean Tsunami response

The department supported the Australian Government response to the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami and its aftermath. Onshore staff members were rapidly deployed as Airline Liaison Officers to help with the uplift and documentation of distressed Australians in the affected areas. We liaised with the DFAT-led Inter-Departmental Emergency Task Force (IDETF) during the emergency uplift phase of the response, and played a critical role in helping verify the location of Australians listed as missing, using the department's Movements Reconstruction database to assist with the DFAT Consular effort.

Advance Passenger Processing System

A key element of our secure and streamlined border processing is the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system which is used to pre-check passengers before they travel to Australia. The APP system prevents inadequately documented passengers from being uplifted by airlines overseas and increases the efficiency of incoming passenger processing in Australia for both airlines and the cruise shipping industry.

  • System enhancements were introduced in early 2004, enabling the department to obtain advance passenger information in respect of all airline passengers (including those transiting) and crew prior to their arrival in Australia. By December 2004, all 46 airlines that fl y to Australia had upgraded to this latest version of the APP system.
  • Further enhancements to the APP system were implemented in February 2005 to allow for the processing of crew by passport on arrival. This was a significant streamlining to the immigration screening process as previously crew were processed manually on arrival.

As at 30 June 2005, APP reporting occurred in approximately 98 per cent of passenger air arrivals, an increase from 96 per cent in 2003-04 and 94 per cent in 2002-03.

During the cruise ship season from 26 August 2004 to 24 April 2005, reporting covered 13 761 crew and 23 829 passengers arriving by sea, enabling 99.8 per cent of international cruise ship arrivals to be processed by APP. Thirty seven separate passenger cruise vessel arrivals were reported using APP during this period. Processing of the Carnival Line Sapphire Princess for a Hobart arrival on 7 February 2005, encompassing 2648 passengers and 1080 crew is typical of the volumes handled by the APP system and demonstrates the resource efficiencies of pre-arrival processing using APP, minimising delays for disembarkation. In addition, trials of the APP system for its future use by cargo vessels were conducted in December 2004 and in May/June 2005. It is anticipated that APP reporting will be progressively applied to sections of cargo shipping from early 2006.

back to top


Figure 38: Performance information-Regulate entry and departure

Figure 38: Performance information-Regulate entry and departure


To provide efficient and orderly immigration processing while ensuring an effective screen against those who have no entitlement to enter the country.


The department uses leading-edge technology to deliver a secure immigration processing system that is as non-intrusive as possible for genuine travellers. We work in tandem with the Australian Customs Service (ACS) to provide a streamlined immigration clearance process. To achieve these goals, we have established cooperative relationships with airlines and, more recently, the cruise shipping industry, and invested in systems that enable checks of travellers' immigration status before they board planes and cruise ships to Australia.

Analysis of performance

In 2004-05 there were 20.7 million air passenger and 1.2 million aircrew arrivals and departures compared with 18.6 million air passenger and 1.1 million aircrew arrivals and departures in 2003-04. This is an increase of 11 per cent in passenger numbers.

Advance Passenger Processing (APP) System

APP is a key element of border processing, providing the capacity to pre-check passengers before they travel to Australia. All 46 airlines that fl y to Australia have upgraded to the latest version of the APP system, which completes this phase of the roll-out of mandatory APP in the aviation sector.

APP reporting, as at 30 June 2005, was occurring in approximately 98 per cent of passenger air arrivals in 2004-05, an increase from 96 per cent in 2003-04 and 94 per cent in 2002-03.

During the cruise ship season from 26 August 2004 to 24 April 2005, APP reporting covered around 13 000 crew and more than 23 000 passengers arriving by sea, enabling 99.8 per cent of all international cruise ship arrivals to be processed using the APP system. In addition, trials of the APP system for its future use by cargo vessels were conducted in December 2004 and in May/June 2005. It is anticipated that the APP reporting will be progressively applied to sections of cargo shipping from early 2006.

back to top


As an outcome of the Government's Maritime Security Review, the department was funded $12.3 over four years to increase participation in vessel boarding with ACS at Australia's seaports. A particular focus will be on document examination to counter the risk of identity fraud.

Immigration Officers conducting document examination onboard a vessel in WA.

Immigration Officers conducting document examination onboard a vessel in WA.

There are now 23 dedicated departmental seaports officers in state and territory offices and regionally in Port Hedland and Cairns. Since January 2005, immigration clearance training has been delivered to ACS officers at most major and several regional ports. During the April-June quarter, immigration officers boarded 468 vessels for the purposes of examining crew and passenger documents and resolving case referrals identified by the ACS as being of potential immigration concern. This activity has contributed to 426 persons refused entry at seaports in 2004-05. The visible presence of immigration officers at the front line provides a deterrence to those who may attempt to enter Australia unlawfully.

Documentary requirements for maritime crew

From 1 July 2004, new arrangements to increase identity checking for maritime crew were enforced. This requires ships' crew to hold both a valid passport and another document linking them to the ship on which they are employed. This followed a transitional period from 1 November 2003 to 30 June 2004 to assist the shipping industry in meeting the new documentary requirements. Enforcement action includes:

  • penalties for carriers in relation to crew arriving without adequate documentation
  • the prevention of shore leave for crew
  • restriction of crew onboard a vessel.

In 2004-2005, more than 295 000 crew arrived in Australia-around 190 of them without the required documentation. This represents 0.06 per cent of all crew arrivals and demonstrates a high level of compliance by the shipping industry with the documentary requirements.

Infringement notices

The Migration Act 1958 provides for penalties on carriers who bring inadequately documented passengers to Australia. Where a carrier brings an inadequately documented or undocumented passenger to Australia, the master, owner, agent, charterer and operator of the vessel on which the person travelled are each guilty of an offence and liable, upon conviction, to a fine of up to $10 000. As an alternative to prosecution carriers may elect to pay a prescribed penalty of $5000 for a body corporate or $3000 for a person.

The net number of infringement notices served on airlines for bringing improperly or undocumented passengers into Australia dropped significantly from 2354 in 2002-03 to 1211 in 2003-04, a decrease of more than 48 per cent. In 2004-05, 993 infringement notices were served on airlines, a further 18 per cent decrease. At their peak in 1999-2000 more than 5000 infringement notices were issued.

The decrease points to a reduction in the incidence of inadequately documented arrivals. The APP system and the Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) network particularly have contributed to this reduction. We continue to work with airlines to further reduce inadequately documented arrivals.

The net number of infringement notices served on shipping vessels was 50 in 2004-05. While there was an initial increase in infringement notices in the maritime industry following the enforcement of the new documentary requirements from 1 July 2004, the rate of infringements has since reduced, indicating that the new arrangements are now generally adhered to.

back to top

Entry Operations Centre

To help carriers comply with the requirements of the Migration Act 1958, the Entry Operations Centre (EOC) provides an around-the-clock help desk facility to airlines and the shipping industry. It gives carriers information about the immigration status of individuals intending to travel to Australia.

While this service has been available to airlines for some years, it was extended to the shipping industry in June 2005, in concert with the introduction of APP and the new documentary requirements for maritime crew.

Regional cooperation - Regional Movement Alert List

The Regional Movement Alert List (RMAL) system is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) counter-terrorism initiative. The objective of RMAL is to strengthen the collective capacity of border management agencies to detect lost and stolen passports and, if necessary, prevent their use for travel or boarding of flights to participating APEC economies.

In November 2004, a feasibility report was presented to APEC leaders by Australia and the United States. The report noted that a RMAL system was feasible and that a pilot should proceed.

APEC leaders tasked Australia and the United States with developing a pilot RMAL system in which both countries would access each other's lost and stolen passport data as part of their respective border management processes. The department is the lead agency within the Australian Government to develop and implement the pilot.

The pilot will be conducted in 2005-06, initially between Australia and the United States. It will test the multilateral accessing of passport databases by participating APEC economies. In February 2005, the New Zealand Government confirmed that it will participate, and is expected to join the pilot in late 2005.

Australia and the United States will report to APEC leaders in November 2005 on the progress of the pilot. The prospect is that other APEC economies could become involved.

back to top

Regional cooperation - Advance Passenger Information Systems

Australia continued to promote the benefits of Advance Passenger Information (API) systems within the APEC group, including common standards in the development of the systems. The implementation of API systems is an endorsed counter-terrorism measure and 'Pathfinder Initiative'. It was adopted by APEC leaders at their meeting in Mexico in October 2002, and reaffirmed at subsequent meetings in 2003 and 2004.

To advance this initiative, Australia is providing a range of APEC economies with an API feasibility study report assessing the capacity of their existing border management systems to integrate with an API system. The reports identify a range of issues governments need to consider when developing their own API systems, including the current border management systems infrastructure and business processing.

Australia presented three API feasibility study reports in 2004-05 to South Korea (November 2004), Chinese Taipei (December 2004) and the Philippines (April 2005). A feasibility study was conducted for the People's Republic of China in 2004. Further studies are planned for 2005-06.

The API feasibility study project provides Australia with an important opportunity to work cooperatively with other APEC economies in the development of API systems in the Asia-Pacific region. In this way, Australia is contributing to the development of significantly enhanced regional border control processes, thereby boosting Australia's capacity to manage its own borders.

2006 Commonwealth Games

Building on the success of the management of entry services for the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games, the department is now working with other agencies to plan for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. We will provide enhanced border functions for the Games, including additional staff at airports onshore and offshore. A Commonwealth Games Travel Authority system will shortly be completed. The system is specifically designed to facilitate the security checking and travel of Games athletes, coaches and other officials.

Migration fraud investigations

The department is responsible for the investigation of offences under the Migration Act 1958 and the Citizenship Act 1948. Outcomes of those investigations may result in criminal prosecutions, administrative action or regulation of status. A number of court matters were initiated, concluded or were ongoing during 2004-05.

33 new briefs of evidence were submitted to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration, 38 prosecutions were initiated and 11 court matters were concluded that resulted in convictions.

back to top


Figure 39: Performance information-Prevent unlawful entry

Figure 39: Performance information-Prevent unlawful entry


To deliver on Australia's commitment to border protection.


The department has established offshore and border operations to identify and detect people who have no entitlement to enter Australia and to prevent their entry. We employ a range of strategies to detect and prevent unlawful entry through the use of deterrents and law enforcement as well as engaging other countries in efforts to deal effectively with irregular flows of people.

Our operations concentrate on:

  • preventing unlawful entry by people who are improperly documented, who constitute a threat to the community on national security grounds, who have a criminal background or otherwise fail to meet the requirements for entry
  • preventing people smuggling activities
  • combating unauthorised boat arrivals through prevention and deterrent strategies
  • assisting in the prevention of fraud against the department's visa programs.

Analysis of performance

Refused immigration clearance

Arrivals by air

1632 people were refused immigration clearance at Australian airports in 2004-05. This is an increase of 31 per cent over the 1241 people refused in 2003-04.

The number of persons refused immigration clearance in 2004-05 was 0.015 per cent of passenger air arrivals, compared with 0.013 per cent of passenger air arrivals in 2003-04.

This increase can be attributed to factors including sophisticated fraud detection measures, the pre-arrival assessment of passengers and an increase in total passenger arrivals. The number of inadequately documented arrivals in Australia has reduced, pointing to the value of the APP system and the Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) network.

97.5 per cent of those refused immigration clearance at Australian airports in 2004-05 were removed within 72 hours, in most cases on the next available flight.

Arrivals by sea

In 2004-05, there were 426 people refused immigration clearance at Australian seaports.

This is the first time that this figure has been reported for seaports arrivals. The number of people arriving by sea who were refused immigration clearance in 2004-05 reflects at least in part the introduction of new documentary requirements on 1 July 2004.

The initial peak in the first quarter of 2004-05 has subsided, and we expect that continuing high levels of compliance with documentary requirements will see a reduction in the number of refused immigration clearances in 2005-06.

Deserters and stowaways

In 2004-05, 12 deserters and 25 stowaways were located, compared to 24 and 11, respectively, in 2003-04.

back to top

Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) Network

ALOs conduct document screening of many Australia-bound passengers at key international gateways. They provide advice to airlines and to host governments on passenger documentation issues, and by their visible presence, deter the activities of those involved in people smuggling.

In 2004-05, 207 persons attempted to travel to and enter Australia on forged or fraudulent documentation. This is a reduction of 14 per cent on the 2003-04 figure of 242, suggesting better offshore and onshore screening is a significant deterrent to those seeking to use these documents.

Of the 207 persons, ALOs interdicted 179 (86 per cent) compared to 223 (92 per cent) in 2003-04. In 2004-05, 28 of those travelling on forged documents were identified on arrival.

In some locations, Australia's ALOs share information with the ALOs of other countries and host governments, contributing to international action against people smuggling. For example, during 2004-05, the ALO network has helped prosecute people smugglers by recognising information and documents of evidentiary value outside Australia and referring them to authorities in Australia. Other examples include:

  • 11 Afghan passengers identified by the APP system, were found to have counterfeit Australian visas and were prevented from travelling
  • a passenger identified by an ALO as being of potential concern and later found by the Australian Customs Service (ACS) to be carrying a significant amount of illegal narcotics
  • assistance from a host country's immigration authorities that led to the identification of two passengers with bogus travel documents, and in turn to an organised people smuggling group.

In cooperation with ALOs from other countries, Australian ALOs helped interdict 2543 persons travelling to a variety of countries in 2004-05. This compares to 1613 persons in 2003-04.

During 2004-05 the ALO network increased to 17 ALOs at 12 locations.


The department continued its program of targeted compliance training and briefings for various staff and associates in overseas posts. In 2004-05, 62 ALOs, 48 departmental officers posted overseas and 22 locally engaged employees completed compliance and document examination training programs in Canberra. The programs increased their skills to identify, analyse and combat fraud in travel documents and other documents submitted with visa applications. Ten airline and ground handling supervisors from Jakarta and Denpasar took part in border and visa systems and document examination training in Canberra and Sydney.

Document examination

The National Document Examination Unit completed a number of projects to reduce the incidence of document fraud:

  • EDISON TD, a database system of travel documents, is now available on the department's network, allowing access by onshore officers on the desktop
  • Document examination alert notices (DEAN), a searchable repository of fraudulent travel documents detected both onshore and offshore, is now available on DIMIAnet and a standalone DVD/CD based version
  • Twenty-four departmental staff across Australia enrolled in the newly developed Diploma in Forensic Document Examination at Canberra Institute of Technology. Among them were five document examination trainees undergoing a 3-5 year work-based training program that will enable long-term succession planning and growth of specialist officers in this field.

EDISON OD, a database system of documents other than travel documents, is under development. We expect it to be available to the initial user group during 2005-06.

The department's document examiners contributed to regional security initiatives, including by providing expert training to the South East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT). They participated in our capacity-building initiatives with training in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

Document examination training took place in 11 locations overseas over 11 weeks covering nine countries. We provided 371 officers from foreign immigration services with three days training in advanced document examination, with 39 of those trainees also being involved in document examination laboratory training. We also provided training in Australia to Philippines immigration officials.

back to top


The department's work on biometrics progressed. The Migration Legislation Amendment (Identification and Authentication) Act 2004 came into effect on 27 August 2004 and since then a number of regulations have been made to enhance biometric collection and disclosure provisions. These regulations have been introduced as our requirements have unfolded during biometric operational trials.

The finger print collection system being used in the Integrated Biometrics Trials- August-December 2005.

The finger print collection system being used in the Integrated Biometrics Trials- August-December 2005.

A Biometric Test Facility was designed to test the business impact of biometric collection under controlled laboratory conditions. It was decommissioned in late 2004. This was extended to a series of live operational trials in real environmental settings, including detention centre, airport and overseas post environments.

The first of these trials of biometric enrolment and operational procedures at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre was completed successfully in June 2005. The lessons learned will be used to inform the future implementation of biometric enrolment in the department's identity and border management processes.

The functionality of the Identity Services Repository continues to be enhanced as the technical cornerstone of the department's identity management strategy.

The 2005-06 Budget provided $42.4 million over four years for us to develop further biometrics for client identification and border control. This funding will be used to:

  • enhance our Identity Service Repository (ISR) to provide the capacity for all identity information on non-citizens obtained during visa application and entry processing to be managed and tracked by one key system. The ISR will contain biometrics (face and fingerprint images) and will have a capability to automatically search and match biometric and associated identity details
  • implement biometric matching with alert systems
  • deploy biometric collection equipment to onshore and offshore departmental locations where potentially high-risk visa applicants and travellers are processed.

War crimes screening

The department's War Crimes Screening Unit (WCSU) pays particular attention to applicants from regions where conflicts have led to human rights abuses. Individuals suspected of having been involved in war crimes are listed on our Movement Alert List (MAL). MAL now lists more than 7000 names related to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

881 cases were referred to the WCSU for screening advice during 2004-05, which is an increase of 21 per cent over 2003-04. Of 881 referred cases, 738 cases were cleared and seven recommendations were made for refusal in relation to war crimes.

back to top

Enhanced Cooperation Program

The Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP) agreed by the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) in December 2003 was designed to support PNG in the key sectors of economic and fiscal management, law and order and border security. The ECP is currently being reviewed by the two governments due to constitutional issues in PNG relating to the implementing legislation.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has delivered a major report commissioned under ECP on PNG border management structures. The report included a multi-year program for improving border management systems in PNG. Four departmental officers have been progressively deployed to PNG since February 2004 to help PNG with a range of immigration-related projects to implement aspects of the IOM report.

Illegal foreign fishers

Illegal foreign fishers apprehended for alleged breaches of the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (FMA) are held in fisheries detention on enforcement visas for a maximum of seven days (168 hours) while fisheries authorities conduct investigations into the alleged offences and determine which fishers are to be charged. An enforcement visa is granted by operation of law, not by application. When the person is released from fisheries detention, their enforcement visa ceases to be in effect. They become unlawful non-citizens and must be detained under the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act) and removed as soon as reasonably practicable. Unlawful non-citizens apprehended for alleged breaches of the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1985 (TSFA) are detained under the Migration Act from the time of their apprehension until their removal from Australia as unlawful non-citizens. Amendments to the FMA, TSFA and the Migration Act were passed by Parliament on 10 August 2005 to regularise this framework, including creating an enforcement visa regime for foreign fishers apprehended under the TSFA in the Torres Strait Protected Zone.

In 2004-05, there were 1485 illegal foreign fishers apprehended for alleged fisheries offences. Of these, 1417 were removed, and at 30 June 2005 the remainder were either awaiting prosecution for alleged fisheries offences or were serving custodial sentences. This is compared to a total of 894 fishers removed in 2003-04.

Figure 40: Number of illegal foreign fishers apprehended in Australia's northern waters by financial year

Figure 40: Number of illegal foreign fishers apprehended in Australia's northern waters by financial year

back to top

Infrastructure services

In January 2005, the Government announced more effective arrangements for the processing and detention of illegal foreign fishers apprehended in northern Australian waters for suspected fisheries offences. This decision recognises the increasing difficulty of managing boat-based detention and the desire to improve existing detention arrangements for apprehended fishers. Central to the new arrangements will be a land-based detention facility in Darwin, capable of holding around 250 detainees awaiting prosecution or repatriation.

These new arrangements demonstrate a commitment to the welfare of illegal foreign fishers and address the need for an ongoing accommodation capacity in Darwin to deal with the growing illegal foreign fishing problems in our northern waters. Currently, pending the completion of this project, apprehended fishers are being moved from their vessels and transferred as soon as practicable to existing immigration detention facilities in southern Australia. Other forms of land-based detention accommodation, such as motels or police holding facilities, may also be used for transit purposes until transfers are arranged.

The objective of the upgrade project is to establish a safe and secure landbased detention facility for illegal foreign fishers apprehended in Australian northern waters. Other persons detained for compliance reasons may also be accommodated there.

Detecting illegal foreign fishers in Australian waters

In operations coordinated by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Australia apprehends and detains illegal foreign fishers in its waters to protect its natural resources, maintain the integrity of its borders, and uphold its sovereignty. Illegal foreign fishing poses significant quarantine, conservation, environmental and security risks. This risk has increased dramatically over the past five years. The department's role in supporting AFMA's activity in this area has grown significantly in recent years.

The main target of the foreign fishing vessels (FFV) is shark fin, which is a lucrative commodity on Asian markets ,and large quantities of reef fish, such as red snapper. Protected species, such as dugong and dolphin, have also been found among the catch.

The activity is highly organised rather than traditional. Many of the FFVs are fitted with sophisticated equipment such as Global Positioning Systems, ice storages and other valuable commercial equipment. A typical FFV carries around seven crew, but the larger ice-boats, which are increasing in number, carry around ten to 12 crew. Once the illegal foreign fishers come into immigration detention the department's role is to return them to their home country.

In an effort to enhance processing and detention arrangements for the illegal foreign fishers, the government announced in January 2005 that the existing contingency immigration detention site at the Defence Establishment at Berrima would be developed as a permanent detention facility. The new facility will provide enhanced amenities for the illegal foreign fishers and enable their speedier processing and repatriation.

back to top


Figure 41: Performance information-Detection onshore

Figure 41: Performance information-Detection onshore



  • identify and respond to breaches of immigration law in Australia
  • detect and locate persons who:
    • have no lawful authority to be in Australia
    • have remained in Australia after their visa has expired (overstayers)
    • are in breach of conditions which apply to their visa (for example, illegal workers).


The department aims to prevent and deter breaches of immigration law. Where this is not possible we seek to detect and locate those who have breached immigration law. People found in breach of immigration law may have their visas cancelled, face prosecution and be removed from Australia. This output component also incorporates the investigation and prevention of organised fraud and immigration malpractice in the Australian community and the engagement of intermediaries such as licensing bodies and employers to contribute to the reduction of breaches of the Migration Act.

back to top

Analysis of performance

During the program year there has been an increased focus on intermediaries, ongoing cooperation through the Employer Awareness program and a decline in the overstayer pool.

In 2004-05 the department located 18 341 persons who had either overstayed their visa or were in breach of their visa conditions. This is a 9 per cent reduction on the numbers located in 2003-04. This follows increases of nearly 25 per cent from 2001-02 to 2002-03.

The number of people who approached us of their own accord, in response to notification of intention to cancel or because of requests to attend, decreased by 16.9 per cent over the previous year. Locations in the field increased by 2.5 per cent. Out of the 9062 field locations, 3680 were specifically recorded as working illegally.

Of the 18 341 people located in 2004-05, around 10 900 were extended bridging visas and a further 4100 departed. The bridging visas are largely aimed at maintaining a person's status while they are making arrangements to depart Australia, or to allow them to lodge a substantive visa application or pursue the merits or judicial review of a visa decision.

Employers and other intermediaries

A major focus over the past 12 months and a continuing strategy was the focus on 'intermediaries' such as employers, migration agents, education providers and labour hire companies that can play a strong role in helping people adhere to migration law. We sought to maximise these opportunities and take action.

The department progressively rolled out the Entitlement Verification On-Line (EVO) system. This is an Internet-based real-time visa entitlement checking system that allows employers, labour suppliers, licensing authorities and educational institutions to check work rights and other entitlements of visa holders in Australia.

The EVO system has gained widespread acceptance from employers and is already the department's principal vehicle for work rights checking, as seen in Figure 42. During the year over 800 employers and labour suppliers received over 41 000 work rights checks in relation to prospective employees. Feedback from those employers indicates a high level of satisfaction with the service, as they get an answer on the spot (compared with 24 hours or more for faxback). In addition, the employer does not need to keep any paperwork as the department keeps a record of who has been checking and what checks have been made.

Employers continue to take advantage of the Employer Work Rights Fax-Back Facility and the Employer Work Rights Checking Line, with 20 628 calls and 27 283 faxes dealt with during the year.

Figure 42: Number of checks conducted through EVO and Faxback in 2004-05

Figure 42: Number of checks conducted through EVO and Faxback in 2004-05

back to top

The department continues to conduct employer awareness training sessions to educate employers about work rights with the aim of reducing the number of illegal workers. We delivered 1090 employer awareness sessions compared to 2391 in 2003-04, primarily in businesses where illegal workers had previously been located.

Licensing and registration bodies are engaged and undertake checking of immigration status of employees proactively. Bodies which began to use EVO included the: Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation; Queensland Building Services Authority; New South Wales Treasury-Office of State Revenue; New South Wales Police Security Industry Registry; New South Wales Ministry of Transport; West Australian Police- Licensing Division; West Australian Hairdressers Registration Board; West Australian, Department of Consumer and Employment Protection; Medical Board of Western Australia; Builders Registration Board of Western Australia; Victorian Police- Licensing Services Division; Victorian Taxi Directorate; and Northern Territory Racing, Gaming and Licensing Authority.

For example, the NSW Government's Ministry of Transport now routinely checks the work rights of taxi driver licence applicants, helping us deal effectively with a high-risk industry for illegal work. In 2004-05, 15 052 people requiring transport security clearances have been checked.

We issue Illegal Worker Warning Notices to employers or labour suppliers who have employed or referred illegal workers. The notice advises employers they have employed an illegal worker and advises of the possibility of further prosecution. In 2004-05 we issued 2280 notices, an increase of 20 per cent over 2003-04. A total of 90 employers received more than one notice.

The largest numbers of warning notices were issued in the following industries:

  • accommodation, cafes and restaurants
  • manufacturing
  • agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • retail trade
  • personal and other services (sex industry).

Community information

Information from the public supports the Government in its efforts to maintain the integrity of our Migration Program. The community uses a range of avenues to report instances of malpractice, the prime method being by telephone. We took 35 706 phone calls to our '13' and '1800' numbers dealing with dob-in information. 10 549 of these calls were to the toll free 1800 009 623 national Immigration Dob-in Line number. A free national dob-in fax service is also available.

back to top


The number of student visa cancellations was 8140* in 2004-05, compared to 8245 cancellations in 2003-04.

This continues to reflect the introduction in 2001 of arrangements that provide for the automatic cancellation of visas for overseas students who fail to meet the minimum class attendance requirement or achieve satisfactory academic results. A visa holder must satisfy course requirements and, where such records are kept, attend at least 80 per cent of scheduled course contact hours.

Education providers must report students in breach of their conditions to the department. They must also send the student a notice of breach, which requires the student to attend a departmental office within 28 days to explain the breach. If the student fails to comply with the notice their visa is automatically cancelled under Section 137J of the Migration Act 1958. Automatic cancellation enables a rapid response to breaches of condition 8202, reducing the volume of resources required to follow up non-complying students. Condition 8202 provides that a visa holder must satisfy course requirements and attend at least 80 per cent of scheduled course hours.

In 2004-05:

  • 2250 students had their visas cancelled automatically under section 137J of the Migration Act 1958. This compares to 2269 cancellations in the previous year and represents 28 per cent of all student visa cancellations made in 2004-05.
  • Cancellations of student visas under other provisions of the Migration Act (Sections 109, 116, 128, 140 and 501) decreased slightly from 5962 in 2003-04 to 5890 in 2004-05. These provisions allow for visa cancellation on a number of grounds, including provision of incorrect information, failure to comply with visa conditions, no longer undertaking studies and character. Overall, the changes in cancellation numbers from 2003-04 to 2004-05 have been marginal and indicate stability within the Student Visa program.

* This figure is based on cancellations data as at 30 June 2005. Following a decision of the Federal Court, a number of cancellations were reversed on 17 August 2005. This will be reported on in 2005-06.

Compliance training

The department offered two modules of compliance training:

  • Module 1 comprised one week of training in a range of competencies, including the proper exercise of relevant legislative powers. It primarily targeted operational staff occupying a compliance field or a team leader role.
  • Module 2 comprised a further one week of training delivered some months after Module 1. It reinforced the earlier training and focused on operational planning and the team leader's role. It primarily targeted compliance team leaders and compliance managers.

105 officers were trained in Module 1 and 79 were trained in Module 2 of the department's onshore compliance training program.

At 30 June 2005, of the 233 operational compliance staff in state and territory offices, 211 (91 per cent) had completed Module 1 training since June 2003; of the 93 compliance team leaders and managers who were involved in some form of field activity, 66 (71 per cent) had completed Module 2.

A tender process is under way to engage one or more registered training organisations as the existing contract expired on 30 June 2005. New arrangements will take into account the recommendations of the Palmer Report.

back to top

Working together to identify illegal workers

Working together to identify illegal workers

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs is committed to working together with other government agencies in an effort to prevent access to illegal work in Australia.

The department works closely with the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, and Australian Federal Police and State Police authorities to locate and identify illegal workers. Regular visits are made to workplaces in many parts of Australia, including restaurants, farms, shops, offices and factories, where it is suspected that people are working illegally.

Illegal workers create a number of problems within the Australian community. For example, they:

  • place an additional burden on the taxpayer in terms of uncollected taxes and fraudulently claimed government benefits and costs associated with locating and removing them
  • disadvantage employers who employ legal workers because they may not be able to compete with the lower overheads of those who employ and under-pay illegal workers
  • may be subject to exploitation and organised criminal activity
  • may take work opportunities away from Australian citizens and permanent residents.

In the 2004-05 financial year, the department located over 18 000 people who had overstayed their visas or breached their visa conditions.

Photo above: Centrelink officials assist DIMIA in a field operation in an effort to locate illegal workers.


The number of overstayers at 30 June 2005 was estimated at 47 800, a significant decrease on previous estimates of around 51 000 at 30 June 2004 and 59 800 at 30 June 2003. 'Overstayers' are people who are suspected of remaining in the Australian community unlawfully after their temporary visa expires. The estimate does not include around 228 overstayers who were in immigration detention at the estimate date.

The department attributes the continued decrease in the estimated number of overstayers to a number of factors. One of them is a sustained improvement in relevant data quality. There has also been a high level of adherence to conditions of entry to Australia, which is a product of effective screening arrangements overseas.

The overstayer estimate is based on immigration records going back to 1981. In that time there have been over 300 million passenger and crew movements across Australia's borders, including many millions of non-citizens entering Australia temporarily. This suggests an error rate in the data of less than one thousandth of a percentage point over time.

At 30 June 2005, the median identified period of overstay was approximately 34 months. This represents a decrease of around three months since June 2004.


Data-matching with other government agencies, for example the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), is improving the quality and timeliness of information held by the department on unlawful non-citizens and is of great assistance in locating these persons. Data-matching is limited by the (Commonwealth) Privacy Act 1988, which restricts the number of records that can be matched and the basis upon which data-matching can occur.

The department has finalised data-sharing arrangements with the ATO through a Memorandum of Understanding and the development of an online records checking system. This system, called Unlawful Non-Citizen Location Enquiry (UNCLE), was commissioned on 1 June 2005 and allows authorised immigration compliance officers to conduct online checks of ATO records in relation to people believed to be unlawfully in Australia.

back to top

Joint operations

The department, as a member of the Cash Economy Working Group, continues to work closely with Centrelink, the ATO and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations in locating and targeting people working illegally in the cash economy. Regular meetings discuss mutual issues of concern and joint field operations conducted throughout Australia. A trial out-posting of a Centrelink officer to the department's compliance operation in our NSW office has contributed to the whole of- government approach to the cash economy by helping to deliver over $1 million in savings to Centrelink. Similar arrangements are being pursued in other states.

Identity management

The department established an Identity Policy section and a National Identity Verification and Advice section (NIVA) to improve the management of client identity.

Identity Policy section is developing departmental policy to deal with identity management, identity fraud, legislation and privacy issues as they relate to identity and biometrics. The section takes into account the whole-of-government identity security and international standards work in developing departmental identity policy.

NIVA was created to help case managers deal with identification of persons of immigration compliance interest. NIVA is staffed by experienced officers who understand the links between the legal, policy and operational issues relevant to identification, and makes use of resources within and outside the department who can provide expert advice.

The creation of NIVA centralises the checking process for cases where it is difficult to establish identity, with the principal focus being on persons in immigration detention. In addition to reviewing and analysing checking processes previously undertaken in particular cases, NIVA also manages an 'early warning' mechanism whereby cases involving complex identity issues are systematically referred to it for advice. NIVA ensures that cases involving complex and potentially sensitive identity issues are identified as early as possible and handled in a consistent and expeditious manner.

Patimah Burke and Leonie Gray

Patimah Burke, Regional Manager of the Cairns office, and Leonie Gray, a Compliance Officer in Cairns, using the Unlawful Non-citizen Location Enquiry system to find possible addresses of unlawful non-citizens.

back to top


Figure 43: Performance information-Removals

Figure 43: Performance information-Removals


To give effect to the requirement in migration legislation that non-citizens who have no basis to remain in Australia are removed. This output component also delivers security to the community through the removal or deportation of non-citizens who may be of concern to the public for reasons such as involvement in serious criminal activity.


Persons who were located but not removed were dealt with in a variety of ways. Some remained in immigration detention pending their removal from Australia. Others were granted bridging visas to allow for voluntary departure from Australia or consideration of substantive visa applications or for completion of merits or judicial review proceedings.

Removals fall into the following categories:

  • removal of non-citizens unlawfully in Australia because they are overstayers or they have had their visas cancelled for breaching visa conditions. Such removals include monitored and supervised (i.e. unescorted) departures
  • removal of people who arrived in Australia without authorisation/unauthorised arrivals and who do not engage Australia's protection obligations
  • removal of people whose visas have been refused or cancelled for criminal or other character-related reasons, or those subject to criminal deportation orders.

The last group are subject to section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (which deals with a number of character-related issues and under which visas, including permanent visas, may be cancelled or refused) or sections 200 and 201 (which contain powers to deport non-citizens who commit a crime resulting in a prison sentence of 12 months or longer in their first 10 years of permanent residence in Australia).

The central tenet of the application of those provisions, and the removal of persons subject to them, is concern for the safety and welfare of the community. A decision to refuse or cancel a visa or deport balances these factors against the rights of individuals to remain in Australia and is never taken lightly.

There are highly successful arrangements with most countries to effect the removal of unauthorised arrivals. Departmental staff liaise with foreign missions in Australia and directly with foreign agencies offshore to facilitate return.

Analysis of performance

In 2004-05 there were 12 524 removals and departures of persons who had no authority to remain in Australia, compared to 12 689 in 2003-04 and 13 878 in 2002-03.

Character removals

There were 47 removals of persons whose visas were cancelled or refused under section 501 of the Migration Act, compared with 60 in 2003-04.

Decisions made by the Minister personally under section 501

The number of section 501 decisions made personally by the Minister was 14 in 2004-05, compared with 17 in 2003-04 and 189 in 2002-03.

When the Minister personally cancels a visa under section 501, the former visa holder does not have access to merits review of that decision, although judicial review is still available.

back to top

Illegal foreign fishers-Rapid repatriation

Illegal foreign fishers are apprehended in Australia's northern waters-particularly north and east of Arnhem Land and deep in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

In 2004-05, 1485 illegal foreign fishers were apprehended for alleged fisheries offences. Of these, 1417 were removed prior to 30 June 2005. The remaining 68 were removed after this date because they were either awaiting prosecution for alleged fisheries offences or were serving custodial sentences. This compares with 894 fishers who were removed in 2003-04.

In July 2004, the department implemented a 'rapid repatriation' program which effectively separates the vessel bonding process managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) from the removal process managed by the department. Under this program, illegal foreign fishers not charged are removed to their home country as soon as reasonably practicable. Prior to the implementation of this program, the average detention period lasted between four and six weeks. Now, with rapid repatriation, the average detention period for illegal foreign fishers is around seven to ten days.

Operation Clear Water

From 12 to 22 April 2005, the Australian Customs Service coordinated a multi-agency operation that resulted in the interception of 29 foreign fishing vessels carrying 258 crew. Departmental staff from Central Office, Perth and Darwin offices played an integral role in the operation in relation to the detention and removal of illegal foreign fishers. Of the 258 crew apprehended, 65 faced charges under fisheries legislation. Of the 193 who were not charged, 104 were repatriated during the operation-a commendable effort under any circumstances! The average period of time in detention of an illegal foreign fisher who was not charged was eight days.

back to top


Figure 44: Performance information-Detention

Figure 44: Performance information-Detention


To provide lawful, appropriate, humane and efficient detention of unlawful non-citizens.


To detain unlawful non-citizens as required under Commonwealth legislation.

Analysis of performance

Caseload management

A total of 8587 people were detained at some time during 2004-05, compared to 7492 in 2003-04 and 7934 in 2002-03. The maximum number held in detention on any one day was 1154 compared to 1263 in 2003-04 and 1409 in 2002-03.

The number of persons in detention at 30 June 2005 was 862, of whom 28 had applied for a protection visa but had not yet received a primary decision on that application. This compared with 1143 at 30 June 2004 with 16 awaiting a primary decision and 1311 at 30 June 2003 with 11 awaiting a primary decision.

A number of factors contributed to the ongoing reduction in the number of persons in immigration detention-in particular, the reduction of unauthorised boat arrivals remaining in detention.

The changes to the immigration detainee population continued to result in a more diverse and challenging caseload:

  • the 862 people in immigration detention at 30 June 2005 comprised 93 unauthorised boat arrivals, 40 unauthorised air arrivals, 647 people who had been living in the community but had overstayed or breached visa conditions, 68 illegal foreign fishers and 14 others such as stowaways and ship deserters
  • 7522 people were taken into immigration detention during 2004-05. This comprised 597 unauthorised air arrivals, 5319 people who had been living in the community but had overstayed or breached visa conditions, 1485 illegal foreign fishers and 121 others
  • the 8587 people who were in immigration detention at some time during 2004-05 comprised 298 unauthorised boat arrivals, 633 unauthorised air arrivals, 5944 people who had been living in the community but had overstayed or breached visa conditions, 1542 illegal foreign fishers and 170 others
  • 7721 people were released from immigration detention or removed during 2004-05. This comprised 206 unauthorised boat arrivals, 594 unauthorised air arrivals, 5294 people who had been living in the community but had overstayed or breached visa conditions, 1460 illegal foreign fishers and 167 others
  • of the 7721 people released from immigration detention or removed during 2004-05, 199 had been granted a protection visa, 1608 had been released on other grounds, and 5914 had been removed from Australia.

Alternative arrangements

Following amendments on 29 June 2005 to the Migration Act 1958, the department made arrangements for women with children in detention to be released on a visa or moved into residence determination arrangements within the community by the end of July 2005.

We worked closely with the states and with non-government organisations to implement the Government's commitment to developing innovative alternative detention strategies for women, children and detainees with special needs, including residence determination arrangements.

Prior to residence determination, a number of alternative detention arrangements were already being used. They included a Residential Housing Project (RHP) at Port Augusta in South Australia, foster care arrangements with various state welfare authorities, and community care placements for people with special needs. Another RHP is under construction in Sydney, and another is planned for Perth.

Individual case coordination

An individual case coordination model at Baxter Immigration Detention Facility (IDF) was established following the conclusion of a pilot program introduced there in October 2003. The model adopted by the department, and modified over time, has enhanced approaches to detainee issues, providing us with the opportunity to improve focus on individual cases and giving us the ability to:

  • identify and respond to the individual needs of detainees in immigration detention in a more systematic, effective and timely manner, particularly through the improvement of the flow of information and dialogue with detainees
  • help oversee and progress visa processes and potential outcomes
  • identify cases where alternative immigration detention (RHP or community-based alternative detention) or residence determination should be considered
  • manage and prepare for the process that detainees in immigration detention are engaged in, identification of detainees with special needs and preparation for release or removal
  • respond to the changing profile of the detainee population and better provide a strong support base for a number of special needs groups.

We are progressing case coordination processes for other detention centres, building on lessons we learned at Baxter IDF.

Detention Review Managers

Additional positions, Detention Review Managers (DRMs), were announced by the Minister on 25 May 2005. DRMs will review all detention cases and ensure compliance with standard procedures. DRMs will be alerted of all cases within 48 hours of a person's detention and within 24 hours where the identity of the person is in doubt.

Working directly to the State Director, the DRMs will offer an additional check within the compliance and detention framework to provide quality assurance and to ensure adherence to legislation, Migration Series Instructions (MSIs) and other instructions. Of particular concern will be establishing the identity of the person detained, the consideration of all visa options and alternative detention arrangements, the placement of women and children and a review of documentation.

Rather than an audit style process that reports and highlights wrong decisions, the DRMs, while independent and not part of the operational chain, will be working closely with compliance staff on a daily basis to provide assurance and review around a person's detention, assessment and recording and that their cases and any management issues in detention are resolved as soon as possible.

back to top

Formal arrangements with state authorities

The department continued to pursue formal arrangements with state authorities for education, policing, corrections, child welfare, health issues and fire protection services. For example, an MOU was signed on 5 July 2004 with Western Australia in relation to the protection of children in immigration detention. As at 30 June 2005, progress is being made towards a further 11 MOUs with various states, including two that are close to finalisation.

Negotiations with the South Australia (SA) Department of Health, which recommenced in 2003, are close to finalisation. The department and the SA mental health unit have worked closely on mental health care pathways for detainees at the Baxter IDF. The protocols to guide access to specialist mental health services by immigration detainees within the IDF were operationally agreed in September 2004 and initially signed by all parties on 12 April 2005. We expect they will become a schedule to the MOU.

In addition to formal arrangements with state authorities, strong operational arrangements are being maintained with local police jurisdictions in all states.


During 2004-05 the provision of education services in an immigration detention environment remained an important but challenging responsibility. It is complicated by the fact that children are in detention for varying lengths of time, have a variety of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and have varying proficiency levels in English and their own languages.

All children in detention are encouraged to attend education programs. Where a child is likely to remain in detention for more than a short period, the Detention Services Provider (DSP) is required to ensure a more formal assessment of that child's education needs is undertaken to ensure appropriate education is provided. In these cases, attending external schooling in the community is preferred.

English as a second language is offered to all people in immigration detention and the courses are delivered by qualified teachers.

Health care services

Health care is available to immigration detainees at each facility through a combination of on-site health care professionals and access or referral to external facilities and specialists. Approved operational procedures underpin the delivery of health services.

The detainee population is diverse. Any number of factors may influence a detainee's health condition, including the situation they leave behind and the journey they embarked upon to reach Australia. While the department has a duty of care to all detainees, we have identified the following groups as having special health care needs while in immigration detention:

  • minors
  • women
  • pregnant women
  • elderly detainees
  • detainees with serious health problems
  • detainees at risk of self harm
  • survivors of torture and trauma
  • long-term detainees
  • detainees with a mental illness
  • detainees with a physical or intellectual disability.

We hold ongoing and regular dialogue with the DSP to seek ways to improve services, including mental health care services within facilities, as well as access to outside care. Drawing on this dialogue and the advice of accredited medical specialists to monitor service delivery against contract requirements and operational procedures, a number of initiatives were implemented to improve the provision of mental health care in the IDFs during 2004-05. A significant initiative was an agreement with SA Department of Health establishing protocols to guide access to specialist mental health services by people in immigration detention.

We continue to work cooperatively with state government agencies on access to health services outside the detention facilities. Formally agreed mental health care pathways are in place in South Australia for access to state government mental health care services. Further enhancements were announced on 25 May 2005 to health care services at Baxter IDF with the more frequent visiting of a psychiatrist and the establishment of two new psychiatric nursing positions to achieve seven-day coverage, and on-call arrangements at night. Enhancements are also under way at other facilities.

The department is using specialist medical expertise to help develop such enhancements and in the monitoring, review and general management of health care provision.

back to top

Public scrutiny

Issues relating to immigration detention continued to attract high levels of increasingly complex public scrutiny. After investigation most were found to be unsubstantiated, although some significant issues arose requiring changes to contractor and departmental procedures. In several cases, our work enabled the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) to close investigations.

We received inquiries into complaints from statutory bodies and international organisations, including HREOC, the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Western Australian Office of Health Review and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We responded to a total of 212 inquiries in 2004-05 compared to 298 in 2003-04 and 364 in 2002-03. We made 35 responses to HREOC in an average of 21 days, 171 to the Ombudsman in an average of 28 days, and six to other organisations.

On 3 February 2005, it became known to the department that a detainee held in immigration detention for a period of 10 months was a permanent resident, Ms Cornelia Rau. On 8 February 2005, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon. Senator Amanda Vanstone announced details of the Inquiry into the circumstances of the Immigration Detention of Cornelia Rau (the Inquiry). This inquiry was conducted by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Mick Palmer AO APM. The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry, and changes made to improve performance in the department, are discussed more fully at page 395.

Immigration Detention Advisory Group

The department continued to support the Immigration Detention Advisory Group (IDAG) to provide advice to the Minister on detention issues.

The Minister appointed two additional IDAG members, Sister Loreto Conroy and the Hon. Margaret Reid AO in 2004. IDAG completed a comprehensive program of visits in 2004-05 to immigration detention facilities in line with its terms of reference.

IDAG have made numerous recommendations to the Minister that have contributed to enhanced service delivery, in particular mental health service delivery, infrastructure, education, training, programs and activities. IDAG continues to work with the Minister and the department to develop positive working relationships with key immigration detention stakeholders.

Detention services contract

GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd (GSL) completed its first 12 months as the DSP in December 2004. The department put in place an expanded contract monitoring regime for 2005, based on the findings of a comprehensive risk assessment covering all areas of the contract and Immigration Detention Standards. We worked with the DSP to further refine the contract governance framework over the course of the year, including the formation of new joint working groups to help oversee financial, infrastructure and health services aspects of the contract. A number of minor amendments to the contract were agreed in principle, largely to clarify technical or interpretation issues that had emerged during the transition period as well as to formally incorporate the Port Augusta RHP into the scope of contract.

back to top

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)

Audit of Management of Detention Services Contract-Part B

The ANAO tabled its audit report into the management of the detention centres contract with GSL on 7 July 2005. The department accepted in full the recommendations made in the report and noted that in many of these areas action had already commenced.

Infrastructure programs

Planned refurbishment of existing detention facilities continued. Major refurbishment of all buildings in Stage 2 and 3 at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (Villawood) began in late 2004 and completion is expected in early 2006.

A new Visitors Centre opened at Villawood and another was nearing completion at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre (Maribyrnong) at the end of 2004-05.

Visitor Reception Facility at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre

The new Visitor Reception Facility at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre. The facility opened in July 2005.

A temporary departmental staff facility for 40 staff was built at Villawood for compliance and detention casework staff formerly located at our Parramatta office. For the Baxter IDF, projects planned include a sports oval and improved visitor processing facilities.

Construction, by the Department of Finance and Administration (Finance), of the new offshore facility on Christmas Island began in February 2005 with completion expected in 2006-07.

The department continued to implement the Long Term Detention Strategy announced in the 2004-05 Federal Budget. Key initiatives include:

  • planning for the redevelopment of Villawood began, including the replacement of the existing stage 1 and central facilities areas, (project managed by Finance)
  • works expected to begin in 2005-06 at Maribyrnong will deliver additional improved accommodation, detainee amenity, security and safety
  • construction work has begun on a RHP at Villawood in Sydney
  • an RHP is planned for Perth in 2005-06
  • remediation of the former Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing Centre has begun to enable its hand back to the Department of Defence.

In January 2005, the Government announced the upgrading of the Darwin Detention Facility for illegal foreign fishers.

Case Management Information System

From the commencement of the new Detention Services Contract on 27 August 2003, the department and the DSP have worked together to develop the Immigration Services Information System (ISIS), a case management information technology (IT) system for use within detention facilities.

Presently mid-way through its third release, the completed system will enable electronic access to and recording of such detainee information as property, activities and programs, complaints and bio-data. It will also allow a more coordinated approach to matching facilities with the needs of individual detainees and special needs groups. Steps are under way to enable the integration of ISIS records with other systems used by the department and other organisations in the management of detainees. This will enhance the existing case management information and reporting capacity.

back to top


Figure 45: Performance information-Litigation

Figure 45: Performance information-Litigation



  • effectively manage migration and citizenship litigation in the courts and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
  • provide timely analysis and reporting of litigation decisions.


This output component supports Ministerial and departmental decisions challenged in the courts and the AAT and keeps the Minister and the Executive informed of progress. Where applicants challenge decisions, each case is reviewed before hearing to ensure the decision is defensible. Analysis and feedback on litigation decisions helps identify and minimise legal problems and improve effectiveness of departmental decision-making. Timely reporting on litigation decisions contributes to the effective immigration processing of those people seeking to enter or remain in Australia.

Analysis of performance


  • 4264 applications and appeals to the courts were lodged against department or tribunal decisions compared with 4991 for 2003-04.
  • 4879 matters were resolved in the courts compared with 4709 for 2003-04.
    • Of those matters decided at hearing 95 per cent were in favour of the Minister in 2004-05 compared with 94 per cent for 2003-04.
  • 3308 active cases were before the courts at 30 June 2005 compared with 3935 at 30 June 2004.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

  • 495 applications to the AAT were lodged against department or tribunal decisions compared with 406 for 2003-04.
  • 461 matters were resolved in the AAT in 2004-05 compared with 575 for 2003-04.
    • Of those matters decided at hearing 71 per cent were in favour of the Minister compared with 62 per cent for 2003-04.
  • 307 active cases were before the AAT at 30 June 2005 compared with 277 at 30 June 2004.


<< Return to Table of Contents