Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7665

South Africa

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your correspondence of 21 May 2018 enclosing petition EN0540 concerning the Australian Government's regional processing and settlement arrangements.

With the establishment of Operation Sovereign Borders on 18 September 2013, the Government has focused on disrupting and deterring people smugglers, detecting and intercepting illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs), and supporting regional processing and resettlement of refugees, as well as returns of those transferees not found to be owed protection. Anyone who comes to Australia illegally by boat will be subject to regional processing arrangements and will not be eligible for permanent residency in Australia.

The Government's Operation Sovereign Borders policies are designed to safeguard vulnerable people from exploitation by people smugglers, prevent the loss of life at sea and restore the integrity of Australia's borders. Restoration of Australia's border integrity has enabled the Government to increase the annual refugee intake. As a result, the Humanitarian Programme has increased from 13,750 in 2016-17 to 16,250 in 2017-18 and will reach 18,750 in 2018-19. Focusing on persecuted minorities, Australia has also welcomed 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone on top of this. The ongoing success of these strong border control policies has enabled the closure of 17 domestic immigration detention facilities.

The Governments of Nauru and PNG are responsible for assessment of protection claims for people transferred to those countries under the regional processing arrangements.

Persons determined by Nauru to be refugees may remain in Nauru for up to 20 years, settle in Cambodia, express an interest in United States (US) resettlement, or move to a country they have the right to reside in. Persons determined by PNG to be refugees may settle in PNG, express an interest in resettlement, volunteer to move to Nauru to await third country resettlement, or move to a country they have the right to reside in.

Resettlement of refugees from Nauru and PNG in the US commenced in September 2017 and continues in 2018. As at 19 June 2018, 292 refugees from PNG or Nauru have resettled in the US. This arrangement demonstrates the strength of Australia's relationship with the US, and our shared commitment to working together on a range of global refugee and humanitarian issues. US authorities continue to apply their own rigorous assessment and vetting processes to decide which refugees are eligible for resettlement in the US, and where and when this will take place.

Non-refugees should return home and can access assistance to do so.

The Nauru Regional Processing Centre (RPC) operates as an open centre. RPC residents can move freely into and out of the centre. Transport services are provided to assist with access to community facilities.

The Government of PNG closed the Manus RPC on 31 October 2017. Alternative accommodation sites in Manus were ready to house former RPC residents on and before this date. The Government of PNG is responsible for the management of these accommodation sites. The PNG Supreme Court indicated that it was satisfied that the Government of PNG had provided suitable accommodation that allowed for free movement, was of good standard and was sufficient for residents' daily needs.

The Australian Government's Fast Track Assessment process was established to efficiently and effectively process claims for asylum. The Fast Track Assessment process supports the progress of cases towards a timely immigration outcome. The process contains the necessary procedural safeguards, with all Fast Track applicants receiving a comprehensive assessment of claims for protection. Applicants found not to engage Australia's protection obligations will be assessed to determine eligibility for review by the Immigration Assessment Authority.

Within Australia, the Government has significantly reduced the detention population in Australia by placing eligible IMAs in the community on bridging visas or under Residence Determination in Community Detention arrangements (which requires IMAs to reside at a specified address and be subject to certain reporting conditions) while awaiting status resolution. Those granted bridging visas will, in most cases, be permitted to work.

In line with state and territory government legal requirements, all school-aged children living in the community are required to enrol in school. This includes illegal maritime arrival children living in the community on a bridging visa or under Residence Determination in Community Detention arrangements.

Thank you for bringing this petition to my attention.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Dutton