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Delivering on our humanitarian commitment

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19 July 2012


Australia’s humanitarian program of 13,750 places has been fully delivered in 2011-12, providing protection and resettlement for people fleeing violence and persecution, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.

Mr Bowen said Australia was proud of its humanitarian commitment - resettling the third largest number of refugees of any country and more refugees, per capita, than any other nation in the world.

Included in the 13,759 visas granted in 2011-12 were 6,004 offshore refugee visas, following referral by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The remaining places went to onshore arrivals - by air and boat, and to the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) of which there were 714 visas granted.

The Government is also on target to honour its commitment to resettle an additional 4,000 refugees from Malaysia over four years. During 2011-12, 1,350 visas were granted to refugees mandated by the UNHCR in Malaysia and referred to Australia for resettlement.

Mr Bowen said the Government had maintained its commitment to offshore resettlement and also met its protection obligations in relation to those who sought asylum onshore.

“Under the offshore program, we have resettled people from Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Ethiopia, along with other countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa regions,” he said.

“Of the refugee component, 13.7 per cent were visas granted under the ‘woman at risk’ program, exceeding our target of 12 per cent. The program is for women and their dependents subject to persecution and who are particularly vulnerable.

“However, significant pressures remain on the SHP as a result of the high number of protection visa grants in Australia - which is why the Government is looking into a range of options to alleviate pressure on the humanitarian program.”

Submissions are still open for the Australian public to provide their views on a proposed pilot of a private/community refugee sponsorship program which could provide an opportunity to augment our existing humanitarian program without a significant cost impact.

The closing date for submissions is 27July. The discussion paper is also available at

Media Contacts: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802 / Laura Stevens 0432 833 769