Time to increase the number of refugees allowed to settle in Australia

  • Annual humanitarian intake of refugees should be increased to 20,000 this year, expanding to 30,000 over next three years
  • Refugees settling in Australia via Community Support Program to be in addition to Government intake

Following confirmation the Biden administration will significantly increase the number of refugees admitted to the US each year, Amnesty International Australia is calling on the Morrison Government to follow suit and increase Australia’s annual intake at next week’s Federal Budget.

The United States this week confirmed it will increase the annual intake from 15,000, set under former President Trump, to 62,500 this year with plans to increase to 125,000 next year. Australia last year reduced its cap on resettling refugees by 5,000 to 13,750 annually due to COVID-19.

Amnesty is asking the Government to step into line with the US and Canada and show it is committed to alleviating the global refugee crisis by increasing the current annual intake to 20,000 this year, expanding to 30,000 within three years.

More than 80 million people globally were forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution by the end of 2019. Among them are over 26 million refugees. These numbers are expected to continue to increase as climate change and conflict continue to cause further displacement.

Dr Graham Thom, refugee coordinator for Amnesty International, said Australia must follow the US lead and do more. “Australia’s support for refugees does not match the severity of the global refugee crisis,” he said. “The cut to our intake last year was a severe blow to the world’s most vulnerable people.”

In a recent Amnesty survey, the Australian community made it clear it wants to welcome more refugees into their local neighbourhoods and support them as they rebuild their new lives. Almost 40,000 Australians, 40 local governments and more than 100 community groups have pledged their support to engage in an improved community refugee sponsorship program.

At present the current private sponsorship program, the Community Support Program (CSP), limits widespread community participation. It is too expensive and the amount of refugees allowed into Australia through this program is then counted as part of the overall humanitarian intake.

As well as increasing the overall cap, Amnesty asks the Government to make those entering via the CSP to be in addition to the overall humanitarian intake. Refugees bring a wide range of skills, experiences and qualifications to the job market. They can contribute to the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.