• 23 FEB 2016

    Claims Asha was Deliberately Burned Dismissed

    Following Minister Dutton’s implications that Asha’s family had deliberately burned her to get her off Nauru, Queensland police confirmed that an investigation had been closed with no charges laid. Hospital records showed no evidence the burns were other than accidental. Minister Dutton was heavily criticised for his implications during Question Time.

  • 21 FEB 2016

    Detention is Child Abuse, says AMA Head

    Delivering the closing address to the Australian Medical Association’s forum on people seeking asylum, Professor Brian Owler rejected calls for a boycott but gave his support to staff at Lady Cilento hospital.

  • 21 FEB 2016

    Baby Asha Released into Community Detention

    Following a week-long vigil by protesters outside the Lady Cilento hospital, the Immigration Department relented and agreed to release Baby Asha into the community, although Minister Dutton later announced she and her family would eventually be returned to Nauru.

  • 12 FEB 2016

    Doctors Refuse to Discharge Baby Asha

    The staff of the Lady Cilento hospital in Brisbane declared they would be unable to discharge the infant to detention on Nauru as it did not constitute “a suitable home environment”.

  • 3 FEB 2016

    High Court Challenge Fails

    The high profile case challenging the legality of offshore detention was thrown out by a majority of the High Court’s full bench, opening the door for 267 people taken to Australia for healthcare to be deported back to Nauru. Justice Stephen Gageler noted that the plaintiff’s case had been valid until the government’s retrospective (link to 24 June entry) amendment to the Migration Act

  • 29 JAN 2016
  • The Danish parliament passed a law requiring people seeking asylum to turn over any jewellery worth more than approximately $2,000 AUS. The move was vehemently condemned by the UNHCR.

  • 19 JAN 2016

    New Zealand Offers Resettlement to Refugees on Nauru

    New Zealand’s immigration minister clarified that a deal allowing New Zealand to take 150 people a year from Manus Island and Nauru, previously dismissed by Tony Abbott, would still be a possibility were Australia open to it. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned down the offer, claiming that it would constitute an incitement to board boats.

  • 2 JAN 2016

    Revelations Abyan Did Not Rule out Abortion

    Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Abyan had not ruled out an abortion when she was returned from Australia to Nauru, as had been previously claimed. This raised significant questions over the flow of information within the department and the truthfulness of Minister Dutton’s claims at the time.

  • 26 DEC 2016

    Six-Year-Old Girl Assaulted on Nauru

    The child’s father, who interrupted the assault, said that island police took different approaches to crimes against locals and refugees.

  • 6 NOV 2015

    Doctors Plead for Caesarean for Detainee

    The expectant mother, known as ‘Golestan’, faced numerous complications including diabetes, thyroid and kidney problems and had been in pain throughout her pregnancy, said her husband.

  • 29 OCT 2015

    People Smugglers Were Paid to Turn Back, Says Amnesty

    Amnesty International reported that Australian officials had paid boat captains at sea to turn back, exacerbating risk to life and putting paid to Coalition claims that Operation Sovereign Borders is motivated by preventing drownings. A Senate inquiry into the allegations was announced.

  • 28 OCT 2015

    Abyan Returned to Australia

    Minister Dutton announced that the young woman would be flown to Australia “not only to speak to a doctor in terms of the termination but also to seek mental health services”. Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the Labor Party had “serious concerns” that her case had been “mishandled”.

  • Date

    Chris Kenny Becomes First Journalist on Nauru in 18 Months

    The journalist and former Liberal Party staffer reportedly harassed Abyan and revealed her location to other residents of Nauru, causing her to return to the open detention centre. The resulting story ran under the headline “Rape Refugee Seeks New Abortion Location“.

  • 20 OCT 2015

    Dutton Rejects Calls for Oversight

    The Minister for Immigration denied Gillian Triggs’ suggestion on Lateline that Abyan’s experience made the case for independent oversight of the Immigration Department. Dutton said “The opportunity is there for people to travel,” to Nauru, which was at that point issuing a flat refusal to all requests for media access to the island.

  • 19 OCT 2015

    Border Force Apologises for Operation Fortitude

    Appearing before a Senate Estimates committee, Department chief Mike Pezzullo apologised for “the impression that was wrongly created” and reiterated that "We certainly don't rely on racial profiling at all." Senator Kim Carr asked whether the original press release was therefore announcing an illegal operation, which Mr Pezzullo declined to answer.

  • 19 OCT 2015

    Abyan Secretly Returned to Nauru

    The Immigration Department put the young woman on a chartered flight the morning before she was due to appear in court seeking an injunction against being returned. The Department claimed she had refused an abortion. These claims were later refuted by Freedom of Information documents

  • 12 OCT 2015

    Nauru’s PR Firm Releases Abyan’s Real Name

    Mercer PR, recently hired by the Nauruan government, distributed a press release claiming that a police investigation had found insufficient evidence that Abyan had been assaulted. The Public Relations Institute of Australia condemned Mercer for referring to the woman by her actual name, placing her at risk of repercussions and stigmatisation.

  • 12 OCT 2015

    Somali Assault Survivor Brought to Australia

    The woman, who would later come to be known as Abyan, was unable to access abortion in the offshore detention network. The 23 year old had initially been refused a transfer to the mainland, causing her further distress, until public and political pressure forced the Department of Immigration to act.

  • 11 OCT 2015

    Doctors Refuse to Return Children to Detention

    Doctors at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital announced that they would no longer be releasing children into detention, following a month-long standoff with the Immigration Department over the release of a sick child.

  • 9 OCT 2015

    Australia Reportedly Seeks Deal with Philippines

    Following Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s meeting with the government of the Philippines, rumours emerged that she had worked toward a resettlement plan similar to that reached with Cambodia. A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed that issues such as “irregular migration, people smuggling and human trafficking” had been discussed.

  • 5 OCT 2015

    Nauru Detention Centre Moves to Open Policy

    In a move some criticised as a ploy to invalidate the ongoing High Court challenge, the Nauruan government announced that the Regional Processing Centre would now allow people in detention to come and go from the centre freely, and process the remaining 600 claims in a single week. Justice Minister David Adeang described the new policy as “an even more compassionate program” than the previous model.

  • 25 SEP 2015

    UNHCR Cancels Inspection Due to Legal Fears

    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crépeau called off the visit to Australia’s offshore detention centres, citing concerns “that the 2015 Border Force Act, which sanctions detention centre service-providers who disclose ‘protected information’ with a two-year court sentence, would have an impact on my visit as it serves to discourage people from fully disclosing information relevant to my mandate.” Over 60 Academics later wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister advising that he exempt detention centre workers from Act’s prohibitions for the purposes of the visit.

  • 20 SEP 2015

    Germany Forecasts 800,000 Asylum Places

    Officials had previously expected to offer safety to 300,000 Syrians, but the largest influx in the country’s post-war history had caused them to re-evaluate. Interior minister Thomas de Maizière said “We can master this challenge.” <>

  • 9 SEP

    Asylum Offered to 12,000 Syrians

    Following public pressure and dissent from prominent MPs, the Australian government agreed to open the places to Syrian people seeking asylum. Prime Minister Tony Abbott denied rumors the places would be available only to Syrian Christians.

  • 9 SEP 2015

    Refugees Arrive in Germany to Cheers

    People at German train stations greeted refugees with “rounds of applause and songs, as well as sweets, pastries and toys.” An estimated 10,000 refugees arrived in one day, to be met with popular enthusiasm matching Angela Merkel’s promise to grant asylum to all Syrians fleeing the war.

  • 4 SEP 2015

    Review Launched into Adverse ASIO Findings

    Robert Cornall, who headed the government’s review into violence on Manus Island, will lead the review of ASIO security findings, which have led to the indefinite detention of people found to be refugees, including single mother ‘Ranjini’.

  • 31 AUG 2015

    Transfield Announced as ‘Preferred Tenderer’ to Provide Welfare Services on Nauru

    Despite the service contractor putting forward a much more expensive bid than its competitors to take over from Save the Children’s role on Nauru, the Australian government chose to grant them preferred tenderer status. Save the Children Australia’s contract was not renewed, after some staff members brought rights abuses in the centre to light.

  • 31 AUG 2015

    Senate Inquiry into Nauru Detention Centre Releases Final Report

    The report uncovered widespread child abuse, violence and deprivation and recommended the removal of all children from the centre as soon as possible.

  • 28 AUG 2015

    Border Force’s Operation Fortitude Cancelled After Protest

    The Melbourne community responded with outrage to a planned Australian Border Force operation to check the visas of “any individual we cross paths with”, forcing the ABF to call the exercise off.

  • 18 AUG 2015

    HESTA Sells its Stake in Transfield, Citing Human Rights Abuses in Detention

    HESTA, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds sold its stake in Transfield Services, the company contracted by the Australian Government to operate detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. HESTA chief executive Debbie Blakely cited the ‘significant’ evidence of numerous sexual and physical assaults within the centres, and pointed out that the United Nations and the Australian Human Rights Commission were among those who had found prolonged detention to be a breach of human rights law.

  • 6 AUG 2015

    Government Admits Turning Back 633 People Seeking Asylum

    In a rare release of information, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that 633 people seeking asylum, on 20 boats, had been turned away at sea since the introduction of boat turn-back policy in December 2013. The number includes 46 people returned to Vietnam last month, a move criticised for returning them to potentially life-threatening danger.

  • 1 AUG 2015

    Young Asylum Seeker Dies at Yongah Hill Detention Centre

    A man in his twenties, seeking asylum from Afghanistan, died while detained in Yonga Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia. It is believed that he died of a heart attack. <>

  • 25 JUL 2015

    Labor Votes Down Motion to Reject Boat Turn-Backs

    The ALP voted down a motion to reject boat turn-backs following a heated debate at the ALP National Conference in Melbourne. Labor also remained committed to offshore processing on Manus Island and Nauru. The party pledged to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake of refugees to 27,000 people per year over a ten year period. The ASRC’s response to Labor’s policy platform can be found here.

  • 23 JUL 2015

    Leaked Documents Reveal Failures of Health Care Provider in Detention

    International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), the private health care provider contracted to work in Australia’s immigration detention centres, failed to meet targets for caring for asylum seekers and included incorrect data in its reports. IHMS admitted it was ‘inevitable’ that fraud would be committed in their attempt to meet government targets. The revelations have led to renewed calls for detention centres to be closed down, particularly those offshore, due to what is seen as an inability to maintain basic legal and human rights standards.

  • 1 JUL 2015

    Australian Border Force Act Comes into Effect

    The legislation has instituted the Australian Border Force (ABF) as the new operational arm of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, combining responsibilities related to customs, immigration, patrolling of maritime borders, and detention.

  • 24 JUN 2015

    Labor Supports Amendment to Migration Act Supporting Offshore Processing

    Labor backed the government’s proposed changes to the Migration Act, aimed at ensuring the legality of offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. The ‘11th hour’ legislation was introduced to head off an imminent high court challenge of the Australian government’s authority to detain people in other sovereign nations or to effectively procure that detention.

  • 12 JUN 2015

    Abbott Govt allegedly paid people smugglers to turn back to Indonesia

    In startling allegations corroborated by the UNHCR, Indonesian Police claim that people smugglers were paid by Australians to turn back an asylum seeker boat to Indonesia. Abbott refused to deny the claims. Last week Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton both denied the payments had been made, but neither backed up their statements in Question Time on Monday. Subsequently, information has come to light indicating that, when in government, the ALP also paid people smugglers.

  • 4 JUN 2015

    Baby Asha moved to Nauru Detention Centre

    A group of eight Nepalese asylum seekers which included the five-month old, were moved at 4:30 in the morning. This represents the Immigration Department’s first transfer of an infant born into detention. It has since emerged that the Department had advice from NGO Save the Children that transferring babies to the part of the centre in question would be “potentially catastrophic”. This coincides with calls from over 100 other organisations for a moratorium on transfers to Nauru, and a Senate Inquiry into allegations of abuse and neglect on the island.

  • 4 JUN 2015

    First four refugees arrive in Cambodia

    Ending months of significant delays, the only refugees from Nauru to accept the deal finally arrived in Phnom Penh. The transfer comes 9 months after a $40million dollar deal with the Cambodian Government to send refugees there. The transfer was condemned by a number of national and international human rights organisations.

  • 20 MAY 2015

    Indonesia, Malaysia let boats come ashore

    7,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi people stranded in the Adnaman Sea were offered shelter by Indonesia and Malaysia on the condition they would be resettled within the year. Australia has steadfastly refused to offer settlement to this group, despite the well known human rights abuses of Rohingyas.

  • 15 MAY 2015

    Asylum seekers challenge offshore detention in High Court

    The challenge, being run by Melbourne's Human Rights Law Centre on the behalf of 10 asylum seekers, will test whether Australian law allows the Government to hold asylum seekers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The case will test the assumption “that when we send our refugees overseas we cut all legal ties with them.”

  • 14 MAY 2015

    Peter O’Neill describes Manus Detention Centre as “very pleasant”

    The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister declared that the reports from the Australian media about the centre were "unhelpful". Following visits to the centre, organisations such as Amnesty International have described the conditions on Manus as inadequate, overcrowded and insufficient. Prime Minister O’Neill also defended the time taken for the trial to commence of those accused of killing Reza Barati over a year ago.

  • 13 MAY 2015

    Asylum seeker boats pushed back

    Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand refuelled and pushed out to sea a flotilla of boats containing 7,000 mostly Rohingyas and Bangladeshis. With nowhere to go, the men, women and children were at risk of starvation. The Rohingyas have been described as some of the most persecuted people in the world. This action received international condemnation and action, with human rights groups calling on governments in the region to act to prevent possible deaths.

  • 13 MAY 2015

    Four refugees scheduled for Cambodia departure

    The first volunteers to be resettled from Nauru to Cambodia were transferred to Darwin in preparation for their flight to Cambodia. The agreement has faced criticism from inside both Australia and Cambodia.

  • 18 APR 2015

    Julie Bishop opens asylum seeker talks with Iran

    During the Foreign Minister’s visit to Iran, she advocated for a deal that would allow Australia to repatriate rejected Iranian asylum seekers. Currently Iran's policy is to reject the forced return of asylum seekers. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif agreed to send officials to Australia to discuss deporting rejected Iranian asylum seekers.

  • 17 APR 2015

    Pre-dawn transfers to Nauru

    Early Saturday morning, asylum seekers were returned in the centre and numerous instances of self-harm and attempted suicide. There were also reports of a three month old child among the transferees.

  • 7 APR 2015

    Former Nauru workers claim government knew about abuse

    In an open letter, the workers alleged the government had known about abuse on Nauru for 17 months, and called for a Royal Commission. They also reported sexualised behaviour in children as young as five and instances of self-harm. Former Save the Children worker Viktoria Vibhakar said accusations against her and her fellow workers, which were not substantiated by the Moss Report, were intended as "a smokescreen to really change the dialogue" and distract from the abuse allegations.

  • 25 MAR 2015

    Protection and Other Measures Bill passes Senate

    This bill, now law, increases the likelihood that asylum seekers will be returned to danger. The Bill provides that those who have used bogus identity documents and who cannot provide a reasonable explanation will have their application refused. The bill also provides a requirement for early disclosure - it is now likely that asylum seekers would face a negative credibility assessment because they did not understand all the information that was relevant to disclose for their application.

  • 24 MAR 2015

    Senate Inquiry into abuse on Nauru

    Senator Hanson Young announced the inquiry to follow up allegations from the Moss Review under parliamentary privilege. Former case workers suggested Mr Moss was not given details to all the relevant details, and that an inquiry might unearth more evidence. Both the former chief justice and former chief magistrate of Nauru have backed the inquiry.

  • 20 MAR 2015

    Moss Review reveals sexual abuse on Nauru

    The report upheld some, but not all, of the sexual abuse allegations in Nauru Detention Centre. It also found worrying failures of oversight, and recommended better integration between local law enforcement, contractors and the Department of Immigration. However, Mr Moss found no evidence Save the Children workers had coached abuse, as alleged by Scott Morrison.

  • 18 MAR 2015

    Leading Australian health professionals call for release of children

    In an open letter, fifteen organisations called for all children to be removed from detention and an independent guardian to be appointed for unaccompanied children.

  • 6 MAR 2015

    UN Special Rapporteur on Torture condemns Australia

    The report (PDF) said Australia “by failing to provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the regional processing centre.” The report also found that the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment and the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation Bill) risked violating international laws against torture.

  • 5 MAR 2015

    Government moves to replace orange lifeboats with fishing vessels

    Australian Customs and Border Protection acquired ten wooden boats, made in Vietnam and transported to Darwin, believed to be intended for use in Operation Sovereign Borders. The boats were intended to replace the single-use orange lifeboats which cost $200,000 each.

  • 12 FEB 2015

    Forgotten Children report released

    The AHRC released a damning report into the effects on children of long-term detention, ten years after their last such report, as scheduled. The report found that one in three children in detention suffered from significant psychological distress. Despite Coalition attempts to portray the report as biased, it apportioned blame to both sides of politics.

  • 28 JAN 2015

    Detention of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers ruled legal

    The 157 Tamil asylum seekers were detained below decks for a month, in windowless rooms for 22 hours a day. (Photo Source: the Guardian)

  • \
  • 27 JAN 2015

    Protests on Manus Island draw to a close

    Detainees declared the end of a two-week hunger strike after guards stormed the centre. “We are not safe.. they beat us like dog,” said one detainee. (Video source: the Guardian)

  • 21 Dec 2014

    Peter Dutton appointed Minister for Immigration

    In a cabinet reshuffle, Peter Dutton has been appointed as the new Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Scott Morrison has moved to the Social Services portfolio.

  • 21 DEC 2014

    Christmas Island children moved to immigration facilities in Darwin

    Ninety-four children, plus another 100 people, have been moved from Christmas Island to Bladin Point immigration facility in Darwin this week as part of the Government's deal with backbenchers to support passing of the Legacy Caseload bill. The Christmas Island centre has been consistently deemed unsuitable for children and families by critics.

  • 18 DEC 2014

    Asylum Seeker babies to be processed on the mainland

    An asylum seeker baby born in Australia, currently held at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows. Sourced from The Age

    In a deal with Senator Ricky Muir, Scott Morrison has agreed to process the applications of babies born to asylum seeker mothers and their families on mainland Australia and will not return them to Nauru. This will apply to all babies born before December 4 2014, 31 babies and their families in total. Should their claims be found successful, they will be guaranteed temporary protection rather than permanent protection in Australia.

  • 17 DEC 2014

    Resettlement Facility Opened

    The Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison opens a resettlement facility on Manus Island, PNG. The centre, that will be built by the Australian Government, will provide support for refugees to move into the PNG community.

  • 16 DEC 2014

    PNG process 50 applications and the Pacific agreement extended

    The regional processing centre on Manus Island. Photo sourced from ABC News

    The Papua New Guinean Government has approved the applications of 50 asylum seekers and intends to resettle them in the community. The 50 approved applications, out of 1000 men currently being detained in PNG, are likely to experience delays in the resettlement due to a lack of formalised processes. The Abbott Government has praised PNG and wishes to extend the ongoing partnership. They intend to open an additional detention centre to house detainees whose applications have been refused and are awaiting deportation. However, there have been no reports, so far, of refused applications. The partnership has been heavily criticised by the Papua New Guinea provincial governor claiming the arrangement is 'neo-colonialist' and would increase social tensions and security risks.

  • 13 DEC 2014

    Government stalls visas prompting refugees to consider returning home

    An 84-year-old Iraqi woman and her 40-year-old daughter have had their visa grant applications delayed deliberately by the Government. As the women arrived in Australia by plane without a valid visa, the Government intends to grant them Temporary Protection Visas, which had not been passed through the Senate at the time of the decision. According to the Migration Act, the Minister must grant the protection visa within 90 days of approving the application, however the women have already waited more than 130 days. The women are now considering returning to Iraq, where they would face the risk of serious harm, to be reunited with the daughter's husband and 2-year-old child. Despite the women's hopes, they would not be able to sponsor their family to Australia under the TPV conditions. Delaying the visas has been heavily criticised by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young who distrusts the Government's ability to act in the best interests of the asylum seekers.

  • 12 DEC 2014

    Inverbrackie Detention Centre closed

    The Inverbrackie detention centre in Adelaide Hills, opened by the Gillard Government in 2010, has been closed. The detainees have been re-located, with the majority being granted bridging visas and have been moved into the local community. Inverbrackie is the tenth detention facility to be closed under the Coalition Government this year.

  • 11 DEC 2014

    Manus Island death 'eminently foreseeable'

    A Senate inquiry into the death of Reza Barati during the Manus Island riots in February has confirmed that the Government failed to protect asylum seekers. The Senate committee further recommended compensation be given to those who had suffered human rights abuses during the riot.

  • 5 DEC 2014

    Unprecedented changes to the Migration Act pass through the Senate

    The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 was passed through the Senate, resulting in significant changes to Australia’s humanitarian program. These changes include:

    • The reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas and the introduction of Safe Haven Enterprise Visas, neither guaranteeing permanent protection;
    • The removal of references to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, enabling the government to use their own definition of a 'refugee';
    • The introduction of a Fast Track System for processing the paper applications of asylum seekers, which prohibits the asylum seeker from reviewing the case if the application process has been executed correctly;
    • Allows the Minister to return boats to a country regardless of whether there is a reciprocal agreement in place.

    This Act gives the Minister unchecked, arbitrary and dictatorial powers to deny protection to those seeking asylum in Australia and to control the lives of those being persecuted.

  • 5 DEC 2014

    Government promises to move children out of detention

    In a trade-off for passing changes to the Migration Act, Scott Morrison has promised to move 108 children currently held in the Christmas Island Detention Centre to the mainland before Christmas. However, 25 infants would remain in detention centres, despite being born in Australia, and are unlikely to be resettled. Under the changes to Australia's migration laws, they are considered 'unauthorised maritime arrivals' and therefore 'transitory persons'.

  • 3 DEC 2014

    Intercepting asylum seeker boats causes trauma in Navy officers

    Royal Navy personnel have spoken publicly about suffering trauma and not being properly cared for during Operation Resolute - the Navy's role in Operation Sovereign Borders. Their duty to intercept asylum seeker vessels, which were often in sordid conditions, attending to sick and distraught children, coupled with the confronting task of handling dead bodies of asylum seekers, has had a significant impact on the mental health of Navy officers. They also claimed that the decisions under the Rudd/Gillard Governments directly led to the deaths of the asylum seekers.

  • 30 NOV 2014

    Pregnant refugee women protest on bus

    A pregnant woman outside the bus in Darwin. Photo sourced from ABC News

    Two pregnant refugee women and their families have refused to get off a bus near Wickham Point Detention Centre. The two women had been brought from a Nauruan community to Darwin to give birth. They had believed they would be living in the community in Darwin, not in a detention centre. The wished either to be placed in the community or to return to the Nauruan community. Their stand-off ended 3 days later and they were placed in Wickham Point Detention Centre.

  • 28 NOV 2014

    Torture committee condemns Australia's treatment of asylum seekers

    The United Nations Committee Against Torture has openly criticised the Australian Government for its handling of asylum seekers. It was deeply concerned by mandatory detention and by sending boats back to their countries of origin. It calls for an end to these policies, particularly for children.

  • 18 NOV 2014

    Refugees in Indonesia refused resettlement

    Scott Morrison will no longer resettle anyone found to be a refugee by the United Nation's refugee agency in Indonesia after July 1. Instead, Morrison will preference asylum seekers coming from first countries of asylum. There is an exception, however, for women at risk and emergency cases.

  • 12 NOV 2014

    PNG gives out refugee visas

    10 asylum seekers, currently being detained on Manus Island, will be granted 12 month refugee visas by the Papua New Guinean Government. The visas will allow the refugees to integrate into the community and engage in local activities.

  • 1 NOV 2014

    Asylum seeker begins 51 day hunger strike

    A 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker began a hunger strike, which had lasted 51 days, after an appeal was launched to review the decision made by the Refugee Review Tribunal to refuse him a protection visa. His health drastically deteriorated in the 48 hours leading up to the decision to appeal. He is currently held in Darwin’s Wickham Point Detention Centre and expressed the wish to not be revived should he become unconscious during his strike.

  • 16 OCT 2014

    Asylum Seeker baby denied protection

    11 month old Ferouz Myuddin was denied a protection visa by the Government despite being born in Brisbane. The family will lodge an urgent appeal and take the case to the High Court if necessary.

  • 14 OCT 2014

    Vietnamese asylum seekers to be released in WA

    50 Vietnamese asylum seekers are to be released from Northam's Yongah Hill detention centre into the community. The release is due to the influx of arrivals in the past year. Asylum seekers will be on bridging visas until the outcome of their visa applications is finalised. The Red Cross will support their health and welfare needs.

  • 26 sep 2014

    Cambodia Agreement Signed

    Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre speaking on the Cambodian Agreement on ABC News 24

    The Australian and Cambodian government sign an agreement to begin sending refugees detained on Nauru to Cambodia. Australia is expected to front a lot of the cost, giving a further $40 million in aid to Cambodia to resettle these refugees. The agreement has been strongly criticised in Australia and Cambodia

  • 25 Sep 2014

    Morrison and Palmer cut a deal on TPVs

    Scott Morrison and the Palmer United Party come to an agreement that could allow for TPVs to pass the Senate. The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 was tabled in the House of Representatives with the support of the two parties and will likely receive the same support in the Senate. The bill not only re-introduces Temporary Protection Visas, but has a number of wide ranging implications such as:

    • Removes most references to the Refugee Convention from the Migration Act;
    • Gives the minister powers to turn boats back to a country, regardless of whether there is an agreement in place or not;
    • Allow for a Fast Track System for asylum seekers who arrive by boat after the 13 August 2012;
    • Allow the minister to place a cap the number of protection visas issued each year, and;
    • Create a new temporary visa, the Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV). This visa along with the Temporary Protection Visa will be the only protection visas in use.

    Under these proposed changes, asylum seekers who have arrived by boat or who are not immigration cleared will never be able to apply for a permanent protection visa.

  • 22 sep 2014

    Inquiry into Changes to Protection Status Process Report Released

    The Senate Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 report is released. The Committee recommend the Bill is passed, subject to their minor recommendations.

  • 11 sep 2014

    High Court finds use of temporary visa invalid

    In a unanimous decision the High Court of Australia finds the grant of a Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visa to an asylum seeker in detention was invalid. The ruling is expected to have impacts on the use of Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas and the proper purpose of detention.

  • 10 sep 2014

    Asylum seekers could be released with temporary visas

    In an address to the National Press Club Immigration Minister Scott Morrison claims that some asylum seekers may be released from detention and into the community on Temporary Protection Visas. Eligible asylum seekers are those who arrived in Australia between July 19 2013 and 31 December 2013 and are yet to be transfered to an offshore centre.

  • 5 sep 2014

    Asylum Seeker dies after a 24 hour delay for urgent medical attention

    Hamid Kehazaei developed a serious skin infection whilst on Manus Island, which later developed into fatal septicaemia. Despite requesting urgent medical attention for his condition, his request was delayed by 24 hours, due to bureaucratic processes preventing him from leaving Manus Island without a valid visa. When he was finally flown to Port Moresby and then on to a hospital in Brisbane, he was pronounced brain dead and his life support switched off.

  • 5 sep 2014

    Public Hearings on Changes to Protection Status Process

    The ASRC's Human Rights Law Program Manager, Jessica Williamson appears before the Senate Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs hearing on the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014. Ms Williamson defends the current system in place and opposes the suggested changes.

    The ASRC also makes a public submission to the inquiry

  • 2 sep 2014

    Manus Island detention centre to close

    It is announced by the Immigration Department that asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be sent to Nauru instead of Manus Island, as the Centre will begin to be closed down. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he believes it is in the 'public interest', as defined in the Migration Act, to send asylum seeker boat arrivals to Nauru. There is no information given regarding the asylum seekers currently detained in the detention centre, as PNG is yet to work out a policy of resettlement.

  • 19 aug 2014

    Children to be removed from detention

    Scott Morrison announces that over the rest of the year, children will be removed from immigration detention centres. This policy applies to children who arrived in Australia before July 19 2013. Children who arrived after this date, will be subject to offshore processing and sent to Nauru.

  • 2 aug 2014

    Asylum Seekers transfered to Nauru

    Over night, the asylum seekers who have been kept on a custom vessel at sea for weeks before being moved to the Curtin Detention Centre are transferred to Nauru. Those who are found to be refugees will be resettled in Nauru. Those who were not, would be sent to back to Sri Lanka.

  • 27 jul 2014

    Asylum Seekers Detained at Sea

    While the High Court case continues, the asylum seekers, including children, spend weeks on a customs vessel before they are transferred to the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia.

  • 17 jul 2014

    Bill to Establish and Office of the Guardian for Unaccompanied Children

    Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduces the Guardian for Unaccompanied Children Bill 2014 that will establish an independent Office that will be tasked with acting in the best interests of unaccompanied children who arrive in Australia to seek protection.

    The Bill is referred to the Senate Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs who are asking for public submissions. Closing date for Submissions is 23 October 2014 and the Committee is expected to report on the bill on 5 February 2015.

  • 8 jul 2014

    The High Court steps in

    In secret negotiations the government decides to hand the boat that originally departed from India over to Sri Lanka. This is prevented after lawyers acting on behalf of the asylum seekers convince the High Court to place an interim injunction against any transfer.

  • 7 jul 2014

    ‘National interest’ test required for permanent protection

    Immigration Minister Scott Morrison imposes a personal ‘national interest’ test on applicants for permanent protection who arrive in Australia without a visa. The term ‘national interest’ is not defined and is permitted under Migration Regulation 1994.

  • 2 Jul 2014

    Children in Detention Inquiry Melbourne Public Hearings

    Kon Karapanagiotidis, Pamela Curr and Sister Brigid Arthur before the Children in Detention Inquiry. Photo from the Australian Human Rights Commission

    ASRC CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis and Detention Advocate Pamela Curr along with Sister Brigid Arthur from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project appear before the Australian Human Rights Commission at the Melbourne public hearing for the children in immigration detention inquiry.

    In addition to appearing before the Commission, the ASRC also makes a public submission to the inquiry.

  • 28 jun 2014

    Boat arrival from India

    A controversial issue begins with the interception of a boat near Christmas Island that had left from Pondicherry, India. At first the government refuses to acknowledge its arrival.

  • 26 jun 2014

    Changes to the Protection Status Process Introduced

    The Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 is introduced to Parliament, which is set to make wide changes to how an asylum seeker can claim protection in Australia.

    The Bill is referred to the Senate Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry, who call for public submissions. Their report is expected to be released on 22 September 2014

  • 25 jun 2014

    The Torture Test

    Immigration Minister Scott Morrison introduces a Bill to Parliament that requires asylum seekers to prove that there is evidence of a greater than 50% chance of them suffering significant harm, including torture, in a receiving country, in order to remain in Australia.

  • 20 jun 2014

    High Court rules on the visa cap

    The High Court rules that the cap Immigration Minister Scott Morrison put in place on permanent protection visas is invalid and that he should recommence awarding protection visas to asylum seekers who are in need of protection.

    "The Government has been on a campaign to come up with devices to block people getting a permanent visa ... and those devices have been found to be unlawful."

    David Manne, ABC News, 20 June 2014

  • 17 jun 2014

    ALP confirms position on offshore detention

    Despite a move from Anna Bourke (Member for Chisholm (VIC)) and Melissa Parkes (Member for Fremantle (WA)), the ALP federal parliamentary caucus stands by its support of offshore detention.

  • 28 may 2014

    Cuts to the Refugee Council Funding

    Australia's peak body for refugees and asylum seekers, The Refugee Council of Australia, has a significant amount of their funding cut even though the money was allocated in the 2014 Budget earlier in the month.

  • 26 May 2014

    Government report on Manus Island riot released

    The government releases a report into the Manus Island riots that took place in February. The report, undertaken by Robert Cornall, the former secretary of the Attorney-General's department, notes that asylum seeker anger and frustration led to the riots, and identifies a worker allegedly responsible for the death of Reza Barati.

  • 19 may 2014

    The Cambodia Agreement

    Australia and Cambodia all but sign an agreement that will send those found to be refugees in the Nauru Detention Centre to Cambodia for resettlement.

  • 12 may 2014

    PNG will decide who to resettle

    The PNG Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, says the PNG government will decide who is going to be resettled in PNG. This contradicts information from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who said all those found to be a refugee [in the Manus Island Detention Centre] would be resettled in PNG.

  • 7 may 2014

    Onshore Detention Centres to Close

    Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announces that the government will begin to close onshore detention centres saving $280 million. While the capacity of the onshore detention centres will fall by 500 places, the savings will be used to increase the capacity of the Offshore Detention Centres.

  • 31 Mar 2014

    Funding cuts to legal services

    The Coalition Government cuts funding that provides free immigration advice to asylum seekers. Lawyers that work with asylum seekers note that without proper legal representation many asylum seekers who are in great need of protection will end up being sent back to danger.

    We have obligations as a country to make sure that we get it right on what are often life-or-death matters so that we don't reject people whose safety is at risk."

    David Manne, ABC News, 31 March 2014
  • 27 Mar 2014

    The Senate Steps in Again

    The Senate disallows the regulation to ban people who arrive by boat without a valid visa from ever being granted a permanent protection.

  • 15 mar 2014

    Sydney Biennale Protest

    Artists involved with the Sydney Biennale begin to pull out of the event in protest against Transfield's involvement as a sponsor. Eventually the event and Transfield part ways.

  • 5 mar 2014

    Inquiry into the violence towards asylum seekers on Manus Island

    The Senate Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs opens an inquiry into the Manus Island Riots that occurred from the 16 to 18 February 2014. The Committee is expected to report their findings on the 27 October 2014.

    The ASRC makes a submission to the inquiry, demanding that the Manus Island detention centre be closed down as asylum seekers are not safe there.

  • 4 mar 2014

    Second Visa Freeze

    As he did in December 2013, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison places a cap on the amount of protection visas that can be issued in one year, the cap is reached by March 24 2014. After March 24, any asylum seekers eligible for a protection, will not be awarded a visa as they fall outside the quota.

  • 24 feb 2014

    Transfield Awarded Contract

    Transfield Services Pty Ltd takes over running the Manus Island Detention Centre from G4S and is now in charge of the entire Australian detention network. The contact to run the detention network is believed to be worth $1.1 billion.

  • 17 feb 2014

    The Riot on Manus Island

    Protesting from asylum seekers leads to a riot in the Manus Island Detention Centre. Violence breaks out as G4S loses control of the centre and PNG police and locals enter the facility and begin to attack asylum seekers. The violence turns deadly as one asylum seeker, Reza Barati, is killed by a blow to the head.

    During the violence an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island contacts the ASRC.

  • 3 feb 2014

    Children in Detention Inquiry Open

    The Australian Human Rights Commission opens a National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. The inquiry seeks to determine the impacts of detention on children's health, well-being and development on Children. The inqury will also explore what changes have been made since their last inquiry, A last resort? The report of the national inquiry into children in immigration detention, released in 2004.

  • 3 feb 2014

    Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas Utilised

    Temporary Humanitarian Stay (THS) and Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visas (THCV) are utilised in place of permanent protection visas. The Government ‘invites’ people who have been found to refugee to accept a THS or THCV. Much like TPVs, they do not allow a recipient to ever be eligible for a permanent protection visa.

  • 30 jan 2014

    Code of Behaviour Implemented

    The government places a Code of Behaviour on asylum seekers living in the community. Those who spit, swear, or 'irritate' people can be deported, setting a much higher and stricter standard of law than that required of the rest of the Australian population.

  • 15 jan 2014

    Morrison ignores his own department's advice

    Documents submitted before the High Court reveals that Scott Morrison ignored advice from his Department that his cap on permanent protection visas was illegal and any challenge would be successful at the high court. The High Court eventually finds the cap invalid in June.

  • 5 Jan 2014

    Lifeboats begin to be used

    The Australian Navy begins to use lifeboats as a way to return asylum seekers back to Indonesia. The use of lifeboats worries Indonesia officials:

    "It's one thing to turn back the actual boats on which they have been travelling but another issue, when they are transferred onto another boat and facilitated and told to go in that direction"

    Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian Foreign Minister, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 2014
  • 23 dec 2013

    First boat turned back

    Under a cloud of secrecy Australia allegedly turns the first boat back to Indonesia, making the 'turn back the boats' policy official. Despite the harsh policies in place, this boat and others, show asylum seekers are still trying to reach Australia.

  • 19 dec 2013

    Visa freeze removed, but a High Court challenge begins

    The cap that freezed issuing permanent protection visas is removed by Morrison. At the same time, a High Court challenge commences against denying people who arrived by boat from ever receiving a permanent protection visa

  • 12 dec 2013

    Morrison to deny permanent protection

    Scott Morrison tables in Parliament, Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrival) Regulation 2013. This amendment removes the right for people who arrive by boat to ever receive permanent protection.

  • 4 dec 2013

    Complementary Protection to be Removed

    The Coalition proposes to remove legislation that provides for a statutory right to complementary protection. Under the Bill, it is now at the Minister's discretion whether to award a protection in circumstances where a person is at risk of significant harm that is not provided for in the Refugee Convention.

    The ASRC submits to the Senate inquiry strongly opposing the changes.

  • 3 dec 2013

    Visa Freeze

    In the wake of TPVs being blocked by the senate, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison freezes the issuing of permanent protection visas. Around 33,000 asylum seekers living in the Australian community are left in limbo, with many reliant on charitable contributions to survive.

  • 2 dec 2013

    Senate Blocks TPVs

    The Australian Senate votes to block the return of Temporary Protection Visas. The Immigration department can no longer issue TPVs to asylum seekers in place of permanent protection visas.

  • 18 Oct 2013

    Temporary Protection Visas Return

    The new Coalition Government tables Migration Amendment (Temporary Protection Visas) Regulation 2013 to allow for the return of Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). TPVs have previously been used under the Howard Government from 1999 until Kevin Rudd abolished their use in 2008.

  • 7 Sep 2013

    Australian Federal Election

    The ALP government, which has been in power since 2007, is defeated by the Liberal National Coalition. Tony Abbott becomes the new Prime Minister and Scott Morrison (Member for Cook (NSW)) is named Immigration Minister.

    The new Government begins their policy known as Operation Sovereign Borders.

  • 19 Jul 2013

    PNG Resettlement Arrangement

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neil, sign the 'Regional Resettlement Agreement' also known as the 'PNG Solution'. The agreement sends asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat straight to the Manus Island Detention Centre, never allowing them the chance to settle in Australia. As incoming Prime Minister in 2007 Kevin Rudd had previously dismantled the Pacific Solution..

  • 26 Jun 2013

    Rudd Returned as Prime Minister

    After an internal leadership dispute, Kevin Rudd is re-installed as Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the ALP disposing Julia Gillard. Tony Bourke, (Member for Watson (NSW)) takes over as the Immigration Minister.

  • 16 May 2013

    Australia Excised

    The ALP Government is joined by the Liberal National Coalition in the parliament to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone. Asylum seekers who reach the Australian mainland can now be sent offshore for processing. The Howard Government previously tried to excise the mainland 2001, but had been blocked by the ALP.

  • 4 feb 2013

    Cabinet Reshuffle

    Following a Cabinet reshuffle, Brendan O'Connor (Member for Burke (Victoria)) is made the new Minister for Immigration.

  • 21 nov 2012

    Pontville Detention Centre Reopened

    The onshore detention centre in Pontville Tasmania is re-opened. The centre holds a maximum of 400 asylum seekers and costs $14.8 million dollars to operate. The detention centre had been closed since March 2012.

  • 21 Nov 2012

    Work Rights Removed

    In line with 'No Advantage', the government removes the right to work for some asylum seekers living in the community. This measure, amongst others, is blasted by member of the Expert Panel, Paris Aristotle:

    "The announcements last week to disallow asylum seekers work rights and timely access to family reunion, even after they have been found to be a refugee, were not recommendations of the panel...The measures are highly problematic because they are a punitive form of deterrence in response to a specific and new phenomenon in people smuggling from Sri Lanka that the government believes is for economic reasons as opposed refugee protection."

    Paris Aristotle, The Age, 27 November 2012
  • 21 Nov 2012

    Manus Island Reopens

    The first asylum seekers are sent to newly reopened Manus Island Detention Centre where they await processing. Sending asylum seekers to Manus Island, was an unpopular move with refugee advocates, and some PNG politicians:

    "That's a jail sentence...Anybody would go stir crazy for five years there and I think that's wrong."

    Ronnie Knight, ABC News, 21 November 2012

  • 23 Aug 2012

    Humanitarian Intake Increased

    The ALP government increases the Humanitarian intake from 13,750 places a year to 20,000. This is the largest increase to the Humanitarian Intake in 30 years.

  • 14 Aug 2012

    Nauru Detention Centre Reopened

    The Government begins to implement some recommendations of the Expert Panel and re-opens the detention centre on Nauru. This centre was originally closed in 2008, and was well known for having severe negative effects on previous detainees mental health.

    As much of the infrastructure on Nauru is not ready, many asylum seekers are to be housed in tents.

  • 13 Aug 2012

    'No Advantage' Policies Shocks Refugee Groups

    The report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers is released, tabling 22 recommendations for the government. These recommendations provide the basis for the ALP's controversial policy known as 'No Advantage'. Included in the recommendations are:

    • Process asylum seekers on Nauru and in PNG;
    • Increase the humanitarian intake to 20,000 with consideration to increase to 27,000; and
    • Greater regional cooperation.

    Not all recommendations are implemented.

  • 28 Jun 2012

    Government Forms Expert Panel

    The then ALP Government announces the formation of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. The panel is made up of three members: Michael L'Estrange, Director of the National Security College at ANU; Paris Aristotle, Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture; and former chief of the defence force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC (Ret'd).

    The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre submits its submission to the panel, outlining a safe pathway for asylum seekers to come to Australia.