Annual Report 2010–11

Program 2.1 Refugee and humanitarian assistance

Program 2.1 consists of two departmental items:

  • Offshore Humanitarian Program
  • Protection visas (onshore).

There are seven administered items under this program:

  • Allowances for persons granted temporary visas in the Humanitarian Program
  • Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS)—onshore protection
  • Initiatives to address the situation of displaced persons and promote sustainable returns
  • International Organization for Migration—contribution
  • Payments to the Australian Red Cross Society for the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme
  • Refugee and humanitarian passage, associated costs and related services
  • Secretariat for Inter Governmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees—membership contribution.


The objectives of program 2.1 are to:

  • meet Australia's international protection obligations under the 1951 Refugees Convention and other relevant conventions in relation to people claiming protection within Australia's jurisdiction
  • contribute to the resettlement of refugees and those in humanitarian need through the delivery of the Humanitarian Program set by the government
  • advance Australia's interests in relation to migration and refugee issues internationally through a program of multilateral and bilateral activity, including capacity building with selected countries.

The following tables report against the deliverables and key performance indicators as published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010–11 and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2010–11.

Refugee and humanitarian assistance—deliverables
Deliverable: Deliver a Humanitarian Program of 13 750 places (inclusive of onshore places).

Result: 13 799 visas were granted under the Humanitarian Program in 2010–11.
Deliverable: Deliver 12 per cent of offshore refugee grants through the Woman at Risk subclass.

Result: 759 Woman at Risk visas were granted, representing 12.7 per cent of offshore refugee grants in 2010–11.
Deliverable: Number of onshore protection applications (persons) decided: 7500.

Result: 8940 protection applications (persons) were decided.

A total of 6213 decisions were made during the program year in relation to Protection visa applications lodged by non-Irregular Maritime Arrivals (non-IMAs).

In general, only those IMAs who have been found to be refugees are allowed to apply for a Protection visa. A total of 2727 decisions were made during the program year in relation to Protection visa applications lodged by IMAs.

Table 41: Refugee and humanitarian assistance—deliverables

Deliverable 2008–09 actual 2009–10 actual 2010–11 target 2010–11 actual
Number of visas granted under the Humanitarian Program delivered in line with government projections1 13 507 13 770 13 750 13 799
Woman at Risk visas granted as a proportion of allocated offshore refugee places 12.1% 13.4% 12.0% 12.7%
Number of onshore protection applications (persons) decided2, 3 5 424 7 559 7 500 8 940
  1. Only visas granted to people who have not previously held a humanitarian visa are counted against the Humanitarian Program. In addition, 18 visas were granted in 2010–11 to Iraqi locally engaged employees, which are not counted against the Humanitarian Program.
  2. Applications decided include first instance decisions and decisions following review tribunal remittals.
  3. Protection visa figures (including for past years) are as officially revised at the end of 2010–11 and therefore may differ from statistics previously published in annual reports or elsewhere.

Refugee and humanitarian assistance—key performance indicators
Indicator: Persons in Australia's jurisdiction in need of protection receive protection and have access to appropriate support services as measured by reporting on processing standards.

Result: The department has developed a Quality Assurance (QA) Framework to evaluate and strengthen the quality of both Refugee Status Assessments (RSA) and Protection visa decision-making. The objective of the framework is to ensure refugee determinations reflect the department's standards and principles, and comply with Australia's laws and international obligations.

Implementation of the framework throughout 2010–11 has involved the strengthening and development of several quality control initiatives, and initiation of a regular cycle of QA reviews of finalised RSA and Protection visa decisions. The results from these reviews have provided an evidence base for continued investment in remedial and long-term action to improve the quality of refugee determinations.
Indicator: Australia continues to be a leading resettlement country in terms of numbers of people resettled.

Result: Australia remains within the top three resettlement countries during 2010–11 in line with information provided in Table 42.
Indicator: Targeted consultations with clients and stakeholders are held to provide feedback on effectiveness of Humanitarian Program delivery and pre-departure services; and inform policy development and program innovation and design.

Result: A program of comprehensive consultations with clients and stakeholders continued in 2010–11. During the year:
  • Twenty-one community information sessions on aspects of the Humanitarian Program were delivered to a variety of key community groups in most states and territories. In addition, 11 meetings were held with key stakeholders such as Settlement Grants Program workers, legal aid and pro bono migration agents
  • The twice yearly DIAC-Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Dialogue on Humanitarian Issues was held in July 2010 and March 2011. The dialogue is attended by senior departmental officials and peak NGOs who are stakeholders in the Humanitarian Program. NGOs provided feedback to the department on policies, programs, services and related issues
  • The minister and senior departmental officials met with representatives of peak refugee and humanitarian organisations in January 2011 as part of community consultations on the size and composition of Australia's Humanitarian Program. During the consultation process, the department also considered more than 30 submissions from community organisations, individuals and other government agencies with an interest in the Humanitarian Program
  • The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) program held four workshops to engage with stakeholders and community representatives. Several presentations were also delivered to stakeholders to inform them about the program
  • A new Orientation Consultative Committee was formed in June 2011 to provide a forum for industry experts and community groups, to provide feedback and raise important issues regarding the effectiveness of orientation programs
  • Senior departmental officials met with key external stakeholders through the Onshore Protection Consultative Group in July 2010, November 2010 and February 2011. These meetings draw on members' operational and technical expertise to assist the department in the development and improvement of processes and procedures relating to refugee status determination and related matters.
Indicator: Productive working relations are maintained with international partner agencies with regard to Australia's contribution to strengthening the international protection framework in countries other than Australia.

Result: The department made significant contributions to strengthening the international protection framework through cooperation with international partner agencies including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration. Working with these agencies, the department encouraged better implementation of managed migration approaches by governments and was a valued contributor to multilateral discussions on the future of migration, protection and related capacity building in the context of a changing world.

The establishment of the regional cooperation framework by the fourth Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime reflects the culmination of significant Australian diplomacy to engage with regional partners and international organisations to secure the endorsement of a cooperative approach to irregular migration and related matters. It also builds upon a UNHCR discussion paper on regional cooperative approaches to refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migration that was considered in November 2010 at a Bali Process workshop.

The department attended two annual meetings on refugee resettlement held in Geneva:
  • The Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) in July 2010. This is an important vehicle for UNHCR's cooperation with governments and NGOs and a mechanism to enhance resettlement partnerships.
  • The Working Group on Resettlement (WGR) in January 2011. The WGR meetings are a forum for discussing policy and operational issues around resettlement including caseload specific issues, and concerns among emerging resettlement countries.
Australia agreed to chair ATCR/WGR in 2011–12.
Indicator: Australia's bilateral and multilateral activity in relation to migration and refugee issues has a positive effect on managed migration and refugee issues internationally.

Result: The department continued its engagement on international protection, refugee issues and managed migration, including hosting and participating in numerous bilateral and multilateral forums.

Through the Bali Process ministerial meeting in March 2011, participating countries agreed on a framework, which promotes enhanced consistency in asylum processing and durable solutions for those determined to be refugees.

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, through the Regional Skills Development Program, have been able to undertake skills development in intelligence analysis, facial recognition, document examination and investigations training.

The department's displaced persons program is designed to stabilise and support displaced priority populations, including Afghans, Iraqis, Sri Lankans and Rohingyas. Projects undertaken through the displaced persons program focused on health, livelihood and refugee registration activities.

These activities have strengthened relationships internationally, enhanced managed migration strategies and further developed capacity-building initiatives.

Table 42: Refugee and humanitarian assistance—performance information

Key performance indicators 2008–09 actual 2009–10 actual 2010–11 target 2010–11 actual
Percentage of onshore protection applications decided within 90 days in accordance with legislation 77.0% 71.8% 100.0% 60.7%*
Percentage of onshore protection visa cases that have complied with processing standards as identified through formal quality assurance reporting 99.5% 97.7% 97.0% 97.3%
Australia's ranking as a resettlement country1 Within top three countries Within top three countries Within top three countries Within top three countries

* More information about this result is on Page 122.

  1. Figures, based on calendar year, are sourced from UNHCR Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons reports.