Current policy

In Australia, people who intended to seek asylum but who arrived without a visa were (until July 2013) placed in mandatory detention while their application for protection refugee status) was considered. Immigration detention was part of the Australian immigration policy under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

In late 2012 the Australian government modified the policy and reintroduced off shore processing for all people who arrived in Australia without a visa. In July 2013 the Australian government changed the policy again so that asylum seekers arriving by boat (are currently) taken to Christmas Island and rapidly transferred to a regional processing country (Nauru or Papua New Guinea) where their claims are processed off-shore.

For the latest policy updates refer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. People who arrive without a visa and choose to return to their home country can do so at any time.

Children in Immigration Detention

There are currently a number of children in immigration detention and/ or in the community under residence determination. For more information regarding current statistics, see Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) Immigration and Community Detention Statistics.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is (currently in 2014) conducting a National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

Community detention

Community detention describes the process where the government houses people without visas within communities whilst their visa application is processed. In the community people are able to access essential services such as food, medical supplies and education. Children can attend school.

The Australian Red Cross supports people in community detention.

More information

Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) » Immigration and Community Detention Statistics

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre » Statistics

Refugee Council of Australia

Australian Human Rights Commission » Asylum seekers, refugees and human rights: Snapshot Report 2013

Amnesty International

Watch the UNHCR video on Afghan refugees seeking asylum in Europe, living in a Greek detention centre.