©2018 by polity.

  • Alex Wok

Australia's Refugee Policy


  • The Australian Government was one of 143 countries to ratify the Refugee Convention in 1954. The objective of this convention is to ensure all refugees are processed in a way which is consistent with an international standard. The convention requires that:

  • Refugees cannot be sent to a place where they may be persecuted. This fundamental principle is known as non-refoulement (Article 33)

  • Australia cannot punish refugees for entering or living without permission, or unnecessarily restrict their freedom of movement (Article 31)

  • Those who arrive by air with valid visas seek asylum whilst living in the community. Only around 45% of air arrivals who apply for asylum are found to be 'genuine' refugees.

  • There is a big difference the between the above two routes of refugee resettlement. From 2012 to 2016 the government spent around $9.6bn on asylum seeker processing. The costs for this expenditure can be broken down into:

  • Offshore detention: $400,000/year

  • In-Australia detention: $230,000/year

  • In Australia community detention: Less than $100,000 a year

  • Asylum seekers who live in the community or on a bridging visa, with government support: $40,000/year

  • Australia has been consistently ranked in the top 3 countries in the world who resettle the most refugees through the UNHCR, & its resettlement program on a per capita basis — is also one of the most generous in terms of arrival support, health, education and language services

  • Recently, Peter Dutton has suggested some refugees come to Australia solely for economic reasons and are 'gaming the system, taking advantage of Australia's generosity’. He has also suggested that these refugees are more likely to be those entering Australia via boat.

The above statement has been extremely controversial, and has once again raised questions about how Australia should treat its refugees.


Should Australia's current policy

for vetting asylum seekers who come

by boat be more flexible?


  1. Refugee Action Committee, 'How Australia Violates Human Rights'

  2. Hugh de Krestser in ABC, ‘Australia's human rights record under scrutiny ahead of expected election to UN committee’.

  3. Wollondilly Advertiser; ‘Campbelltown should be a prime destination for refugees’; ABC; ‘Accepting refugees makes the most economic sense’.

  4. The Australian Bureau of Statistics in ABC, 'Accepting refugees makes the most economic sense'

  5. Herald Sun; 'A look at the cases for and against the asylum seeker policies'

  6. ABC, 'Is paying people smugglers such a crime?'

  7. The Advertiser, The cost of Australia's stop the boats policy saves $3.5 Billion

  8. SMH; ‘People smugglers pounce on fleeing Rohingya, charging a fortune for passage to Bangladesh’.

  9. SMH; ‘People smugglers pounce on fleeing Rohingya, charging a fortune for passage to Bangladesh’.

  10. News.com.au; ‘Immigration chief: Australia not negotiating with other countries for refugee resettlement

  11. News.com.au; ‘Dutton says ‘the game’s up’ for fake refugees’.

  12. The Guardian; ‘Gillian Triggs: Australian law has fallen prey to 'isolation and exceptionalism'.