Offshore Detention

Refugees Off PNG    10 Years Too Long – 19 July actions   Current situation     Background– Offshore detention since 2012

Current campaigns and actions

Refugees Off PNG

Launched in June 2023, this campaign has the specific aim of getting people who are still trapped in PNG to safety here in Australia.
The campaign materials below have been developed by a Working Group with representatives from the National Amnesty Refugee Network (NARN), ARAN, Gosford Anglican, Adelaide Vigil group, and a number of individuals.  Since then, ASRC have developed campaign materials (see links below), and RCOA and other advocacy groups are also calling for Refugees to be brought from PNG.

While it is encouraging that refugees are now being brought from Nauru to Australia, at this stage no refugees have been brought from PNG to Australia since December 2021 when the Australian Government ‘decided’ it was no longer responsible for their welfare.  The UNHCR and other human rights bodies maintain that Australia is still responsible for these people. Dozens of refugees and people seeking asylum remain trapped in PNG.

Campaign Objectives

  • All those on PNG are given the option of being transferred to Australia while awaiting resettlement
  • All those transferred to Australia are allowed to live in the community and provided with appropriate support and medical care. They should not be held in locked detention

How you can support the campaign  

The actions that you can take, and the resources you need, can all be found here Actions You can Take

We encourage you to get busy and start contacting your local MP and Senators.

See campaign resources developed by ASRC here (branding, images, social media tiles, corflutes and messaging guidelines) feel free to use these.

Follow the ARAN Facebook page and the ASRC Facebook page and share posts for the Refugees Off PNG campaign.

Please also Sign on and share the Statement of Support (as an organisation, group or individual) and share through your networks.  (If you have difficulty signing online, email You can download a PDF version here Statement of Support – Refugees Off PNG pdf version  Please sign by 30 October 2023.

If your networks include faith communities, ask them to sign the: Open Letter from People of Faith  You can download a PDF version here Open Letter from members of faith communities – pdf version  Please sign by 30 October 2023.

If your networks include health professionals, ask them to sign the Open Letter from Health Professionals (If anyone has difficulty signing either of the Open letters online, they can email
Comments or queries?   please email

Current situation – August

Around 1,300 people remain subject to Australia’s offshore processing restrictions, which includes being prevented from staying permanently in Australia:

  • In late July 2023 the extent of the corruption around the Australian funding provided to support the offshore centres in PNG and Nauru was revealed.   See Crikey article:    We deserve answers on how taxpayers’ money was spent on Nauru and Manus      See also media release from the Human Rights Law Centre, reiterating the call to evacuate the refugees from PNG: As potential corruption revealed, Albanese Government must urgently evacuate the …   These revelations have strengthened the call for a Royal Commission into onshore and offshore detention.
  • The last refugees held on Nauru were transferred to Australia in late June 2023.   Those recognised as refugees may have pathways to resettlement in Canada or New Zealand. However, it is understood that as many as 20 of these people may have no pathway to resettlement.
  • Around 80 people are still in Papua New Guinea – those recognised as refugees may have pathways to resettlement in Canada or New Zealand. Possibly around 40 people have no pathway to resettlement.  UNHCR is working with the PNG Government on resettlement options, but it is known that many of these men are suffering with significant mental health issues. Australia has abandoned these people, having spent $billion on harsh detention and holding them in PNG for 10 years.
  • Around 1200 people are in Australia, having been medically evacuated from either PNG or Nauru. Those evacuated to Australia remain in community detention or are living on Final Departure Bridging Visas, with no access to a financial safety net. Under the current policy these people are not allowed to settle permanently in Australia.
  • Around 10,000 refugees and people seeking asylum, who arrived by boat before 19 July 2013 are still in limbo, because their claims for refugee status have been denied, or are under appeal, in the deeply flawed Fast Track (so-called) Assessment Process.  These people need safe and secure futures.


Resettlement (as at May 2023)

  • 1,081 people have been resettled to the United States (413 from Nauru, 440 from PNG and 228 from Australia).
  • An estimated 200 people (163 per MOSAIC, plus sponsorship by independent groups) have been, or are in the process of resettlement in Canada
  • It is understood that a few refugees formerly held on Nauru have been resettled in New Zealand, and it is expected a further 44 people formerly held offshore, but now in Australia will also be resettled in New Zealand.It was hoped that resettlement to New Zealand would be at a rate of 150 per year when the offer was finally accepted by the Australian government in March 2022.



Home Affairs:

Article in The Guardian:  March 2023

RNZ Article by Gill Bonnett, Immigration Reporter, May 2023.  Concern despite New Zealand move to resettle refugees who have been living in Australia | RNZ News

Background – Offshore detention since 2012  

 It is now nearly 11 years since 13 August 2012 when the Gillard Labor government resumed offshore detention, sending people who came by boat to Australia seeking asylum to Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, under the revived ‘Howard era’ policy of offshore processing.  A total of 4,183 people seeking asylum in Australia have been subjected to offshore detention in either PNG or Nauru since 2012.

This was a very significant reversal of Labor policy, given one of the first actions of the newly elected Rudd Government in 2007 was to close down offshore detention in Nauru, which the then Minister described as a ‘shameful and wasteful chapter in Australia’s immigration history’.

On the eve of the 2013 federal election, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that no refugee arriving by boat on or after 19 July 2013 would be resettled permanently in Australia.  This was a new policy low point, with the devastating effect of dashing hopes for a safe and secure future for the 3,127 people who were sent offshore after that fateful date.

All of these people, including 122 children held on Nauru, have suffered significant harm in extremely harsh conditions.   Several damning reports by the UN Human Rights Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights Commission called on successive Australian governments to end the offshore arrangements.

In August 2016 The Guardian published the truly shocking  ‘Nauru files’  which documented 2,000 leaked reports of abuse against people detained on Nauru, with 50% of the reports documenting allegations of abuse against children  The vigorous #KidsoffNauru campaign in 2018 resulted in all the children and their families finally being removed from Nauru by February 2019. .  There were many reports of sexual abuse of women on Nauru, and some women remained there until March 2020.   Shamefully, most of the removals from Nauru, including the removal of children, were contested in the federal court by the Australian government.

In September 2016 the USA agreed to resettling 1250 refugees held by Australia in Nauru and PNG.  This has been a slow process; by March 2023 nearly 1100 people have been resettled in the USA, and an unknown number are still in the application process.

In late 2017 the PNG Government deemed the locked detention centre on Manus Island unlawful and in violation of human rights in PNG.  The centre was closed, and the 690 men were relocated to community accommodation near Longenau.   In August 2019 the men were transferred to community accommodation in Port Moresby.   The locked detention facility on Nauru was closed in March 2019, and since that time the refuges and people seeking asylum still held on Nauru have lived in the Nauruan community.

At least 14 people held offshore have died preventable deaths, one murdered, several as a result of unnecessary delays in the provision of medical treatment, and several suicides as people despaired of ever seeing freedom.

Bipartisan commitment to the toxic politics of demonising people who travel by boat to seek asylum has supported the continuation of the unacceptable human suffering associated with the offshore deterrence regime, the staggering cost of around $1billion each year since 2013-2014.

In December 2021 the Australian Government ended formal arrangements and funding with PNG and has not published any statistics since then.   At that time there were 105 refugees and people seeking asylum in PNG.

In March 2022, just prior to the federal election, the Coalition Government finally accepted the New Zealand resettlement offer (first made in 2014) and since then some refuges have expressed interest in this resettlement option.

A pathway for resettlement in Canada was opened in 2019 under Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, which requires around $21,000 for an individual or over $36,000 for a family of five.

In November 2022 the Albanese Labor Government confirmed their ongoing commitment to the offshore regime by announcing a contract for $482million with a US private prisons operator to maintain facilities on Nauru in case of further boat arrivals.

Further detail on the history of offshore processing and current statistics is available on the RCOA webpage:



Australia’s withdrawal from PNG announced October 2021

Australia will end offshore processing on Papua New Guinea by the end of the year, leaving Nauru as its sole regional processing centre….124 asylum seekers and refugees remain held in PNG, mainly in Port Moresby. Eighty-eight of those men have had their claims for protection formally recognised.  Those still held in PNG will be allowed to transfer to Nauru if they choose…. Those who stay in PNG will be offered a “permanent migration pathway … including access to citizenship, long-term support, settlement packages and family reunification”.  Refugees awaiting resettlement to America – under Australia’s refugee swap arrangement with the US – will still be supported while they await departure.  The PNG government will “assume full management of regional processing services … and full responsibility for those who remain”. (from report in The Guardian  6 October 2021.

However, since the initial announcement, there are concerns about just what will happen for those left in PNG

2021 November – Cost of Australia holding each refugee on Nauru balloons to $4.3m a year
2021 October – Offshore processing statistics
2021 October Doherty article – Australia to end offshore processing in PNG
2021 August – Bishops conference urges resettlement of refugees
2021 August – Port Moresby: Calls for a solution to Afghans rejected for years by Canberra

Cost of offshore processing arrangements      

The offshore processing regime is enormously expensive – as well as destroying the hopes for a secure future for thousands of people seeking asylum and safety in Australia.

August 2021 – Offshore processing statistics
April 2021 – Brisbane company paid $1.4bn to run offshore processing on Nauru despite no arrivals since 2014
February 2021 – AFR: Nauru detainees cost $10,000 each day per day in contract bonanza

8 Years Too Long actions

List of actions is here

7 Years Too Long
19 July 2020: It’s 7 Years Too Long – A Call to Action

Seven years on from the re-introduction of offshore detention, nearly four hundred refugees remain trapped in limbo in PNG, and on Nauru.

Actions, rallies and vigils around Australia 17 -19 July.

Detained and denied
Around 200 people, mostly young men brought to Australia for medical treatment, have been held for nearly nine months in detention in hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane, and also more recently in Darwin.

Many of these people have not had access to the medical treatment they need and fear COVID-19 infection in the places they are detained.

It’s been seven years of separation from loved ones, deliberate cruelty, and deprivation of freedom in appalling conditions.

For seven years, Government has denied the right to seek asylum as described in the UN Refugee Convention.

Thousands have suffered under this policy as we exiled them to remote places in appalling conditions and destroyed their hopes.

12 young men have lost their lives, families have been separated, hundreds of children have been traumatised, and many have developed chronic depression and anxiety.

Our obligation
Australia is responsible for protecting refugees under international law. As a rich country built on migration and a commitment to democracy and freedom, we are better placed than most other countries to welcome refugees.

Instead, Australia has paid huge sums of money to Nauru and PNG to essentially warehouse refugees. Neither Nauru nor PNG can offer safe resettlement for refugees.

This has been going on now for 7 long years – 7 Years Too Long.

Over 700 people have been offered resettlement by the US, but those still on Nauru and in PNG, and hundreds brought here for medical treatment (including many living in our community) are still in limbo, as Australia is refusing to offer permanent resettlement.

Australia has also refused an offer by new Zealand to resettle these people.

We must bring an end to this needless suffering.
It’s time to abandon the failed policy that is offshore processing.

Here’s what you can do

Listen to this song: Love by Moz
“I dedicate this song Love to all the amazing people who are standing up for us and fighting for our freedom,” Moz.

Watch this video: #dialitdowndutton
Would you let Dutton take your mobile phone off you?

Watch this video produced by the Canberra Refugee Action Committee:

or view it on the group’s YouTube channel.

You can also download this video from Google Drive.

Listen to this song: How Long Must I Wait by musician John Hunter:

Read the Refugees Council of Australia report: Seven Years On: An Overview of Australia Offshore Processing Policies. Download the document from the Refugees Council of Australia website.

Actions you can take right now

1. Write a short email (see talking/message points below)
or copy and add this e-postcard:

and send it to:
• Prime Minister Morrison ph: (02) 6277 7340
• Minister Alan Tudge (Minister for Immigration) ph: (02) 6277 7200
• Anthony Albanese (Leader of the Opposition) ph: (02) 6277 4664
• Senator Kristina Keneally (Shadow Minister for Immigration) ph:(02) 9891 9139
• Your local federal MP: find their contact details on the
Australian Parliament website.

Also phone your message through to their offices.

Here are some talking / message points:
• Resettle the remaining refugees here in Australia and also accept the New Zealand offer to resettle some of these people
• Release refugees from detention and support them in the community
• Give permanent visas so these people can become productive members of the Australian community
• It’s time to do the right thing; abandon the failed policy of offshore processing;  end their suffering; end our shame; permanent resettlement for refugees.

Here is a sample #7YearsTooLong media release that has more information you can use.

Find more ideas, suggestions, tips and images from the Refugee Advocacy Network website:
Links are on the ARAN Resources page.

2.  Share and circulate your message on social media:
Use these hashtags: #7YearsTooLong #SafeResettlementNow #GameOver
Post a selfie with a sign displaying your message and the hashtag(s).
Tweet these politicians:@ScottMorrisonMP @AlanTudgeMP
@AlboMP @KKeneally
Add an image from these photo collections:
End the Offshore Cruelty – Bring Them to Safety
Refugees are Welcome – Permanent Protection for Refugees
• And this gallery:

Follow and share posts from Speaking Up for Refugees Facebook page.

3.  Sign these petitions:

4. Organise a local action or join one near you:
Find out what’s happening in your area: actions around Australia.

More Information about Offshore Processing

On 19 July 2013, just prior to the federal election PM Kevin Rudd in a desperate bid to win votes, announced that offshore detention would be reintroduced, and that no person seeking asylum who arrived by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.

Every single person arriving after that was subject to indefinite detention on Manus Island (PNG) or in the Republic of Nauru, under ‘processing’ arrangements with the Australian Government.

The policy costs Australians around a billion $ per year, plus the enormous human costs.

There have been 12 deaths, and untold suffering resulting in long term mental health and physical health issues.Hundreds have been transferred to Australia for medical treatment. Hundreds of children were held on Nauru for more than 5 years, many developing resignation syndrome, a condition that can cause long term mental health issues.

One 10-year-old boy had attempted suicide three times on Nauru. Doctors said he was at critical risk of killing himself, but it took a Federal Court order to force the Government to keep this child safe. Brought to Australia in response to the very public Kids Off Nauru campaign in late 2018, these children and their families still have uncertain futures as they are denied permanent protection visas; see (?).

Australia’s policy of offshore detention has been condemned by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and countless whistle blowers, including the government’s own doctors and administrators, and has prompted complaints to the International Criminal Court.

Australia’s ‘deterrence’ policies violate human rights and are in contravention of the UN Refugee Convention, the policy of indefinite detention contravenes International Law.This offshore ‘processing’ regime has delivered gross abuses and has left innocent people who sought our protection in a state of despair and hopelessness.

Australia has lost considerable status as a global citizen, and has essentially ‘bought off’ the small nation states of Nauru and PNG by offering huge financial incentives to facilitate offshore processing.

Successive Australian governments have supported, managed and funded this offshore regime.

Statistics and other information on the offshore processing regime on the
Refugee Council of Australia website.

Offshore Detention 2019 – 2020

#toNZ Urgent Action campaign
Ask your MP about #toNZ.
lease email or call your federal member and ask them these two questions:
What will it take for Australia to accept the NZ deal?
2. What will happen to the asylum seekers left in PNG if
we don’t accept the deal?
We are seeking to have every MP and Senator in the country be faced with these questions prior to an important meeting taking place next week.

Find your MP’s and your 12 State Senators’ contact details at is a high priority campaign, so please support this campaign to free those in PNG #toNZ: 
#toNZ Postcards – use for Prime Minister
#toNZ Postcards – use for Members of Parliament
#toNZ Postcards – use for Senators
#toNZ Postcards are provided by Rural Australians for Refugees.


Latest Medevac Update – December 4, 2019

Unfortunately the Australian Government has repealed (cancelled) the Medevac laws.We know that this news is extremely difficult for all people going through the Medevac process.We are working to understand what this will mean for your Medevac application. We will continue to support you and other people in PNG and Nauru through this change.When more information about the impact of this decision is available, we will provide it to you. If you have made an application to MERG in the past, our team will contact you as soon as possible. More information is available on the website:

People remaining in PNG and Nauru
As of 30 September 2019, there were 562 people on both Nauru and PNG, with a further 47 people detained by PNG in Bomana Detention Centre. As of 21 October 2019, there were 3 men left on Manus Island, with the rest having been transferred to Port Moresby. As of 30 September 2019, 632 people had left for the US.  Information provided by Refugee Council of Australia


12 Australians of the Year


Email or call Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese to tell them that this shameful and cruel abuse of innocent people must stop, and to bring people to safety.

Scott Morrison, Prime Minster
Phone:  (02) 6277 7700
Contact Form:

Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Opposition
Phone: (02) 6277 4022

Find contact details for your local MP here:
… consider sending your email (BCC as a group) to all MPs and Senators.