Australia receives up to 13,000 people each year under its refugee and humanitarian program, with approximately 60% of these entrants settling in New South Wales and Victoria. Many of these entrants attend the member agencies of FASSTT. In 2004/2005 more than 11,000 survivors of torture and trauma received FASSTT agency services.
Over the last five years there has been a significant shift in the source countries for Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program. This shift has been reflected in the increase in the proportion of FASSTT agency clients who come from Africa, as can be seen below.
Increase in Proportion of FASSTT clients from Africa:
In addition to an increase in the number of clients who come from Africa, since the year 2000 FASSTT agencies have also experienced a significant increase in the number of clients who are children and young people.
Increase in Proportion of Young Clients
For more information about the profile of FASSTT clients (and the client profiles of individual FASSTT agencies) see the report Out of the Abyss.
The legal definition of a refugee is found in the United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. According to Article 1 of the Convention, a refugee is:
A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, opinion, is outside the country of his (or her) nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself (or herself) of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
Under the government’s refugee and humanitarian program, approximately 6000 places are set aside for entrants who meet this legal definition of being a refugee. A further 7000 places are set aside for those who come from a refugee-like background and who have a sponsor in Australia. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s factsheets provide more information about the Refugee and Humanitarian program.
At the end of 2009 there were 36.5 million people ‘of concern’ to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). This includes refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, returned refugees and stateless people. For a comprehensive report on these people see the UNHCR’s statistical yearbook.
The Australian government has established the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Scheme (IHSS) (funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) to provide assistance to people who are resettled in Australia under the refugee and humanitarian program. Under the IHSS, eligible entrants can receive a range of support including on-arrival reception, assistance with household goods and accommodation, information and support to assist in settling in Australia, referral to relevant services (such as health and employment services), and short-term torture and trauma counselling. In addition, entrants can receive free English language tuition. For more information on the IHSS and other services see the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s fact sheets.