Asylum Insight: Facts and Analysis provides up-to-date statistics on asylum seekers in Australia and internationally.
2015 Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper by Janet Phillips - Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?
Australian Human Rights Commission - Face the facts: Asylum Seekers and Refugees (not updated since 2014, but a very good statistical and introductory snapshot of the legal and political situation in Australia.
Australian Red Cross - Refugee and Asylum Seeker Facts
The Refugee Review Tribunal has produced an excellent Guide to Refugee Law in Australia, which contains an analysis of the legal issues relevant to the assessment of protection visas, focusing particularly on the determination of refugee status in Australia. The Guide is regularly updated to reflect developments in the law.
Globalex Guide to Researching the Legal Aspects of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom
News feed from UNHCR
Australia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol. This means that Australia has voluntarily committed to comply with their provisions in good faith and to take the necessary steps to give effect to those treaties under domestic law (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 26). Treaties are not adopted automatically into Australian law - they must be incorporated into domestic legislation. The Refugee Convention in its entirely has not been incorporated into domestic law - however, certain provisions of the treaty are reflected in domestic legislation. For instance, s 36(2)(a) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) makes reference to the protection obligations under the Refugee Convention in defining the criteria for a 'protection visa' under that Act.
Even when treaties have not been directly incorporated by legislation, they are an indirect source of rights, and treaties ratified by Australia have relevance in the common law of Australia which is enforced by courts. The High Court of Australia has confirmed that legislative provisions should be interpreted by courts in a manner that ensures, as far as possible, that they are consistent with Australia's international obligations because 'Parliament, prima facie, intends to give effect to Australia's obligations under international law' (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Ah Hin Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273, 287). The High Court also held in Teoh that ratification of a treaty raised a legitimate expectation that an executive decision-maker will act consistently with its terms (Teoh, 291).
In addition, it is almost certain that many of the principles in the Refugee Convention, such as the definition of refugee and the reception of non-refoulment, have the status of customary international law, which means that Australia cannot escape its obligations, whether or not the Convention is incorporated into Australian legislation (Greig D, 'The Protection of Refugees and Customary International Law' (1984) 8 Australian Yearbook of International Law 108, 128, 133-136.
In Australia, statutory law dealing with refugees is primarily a Federal matter because migration matters come under the Federal powers enumerated in the Constitution: s 51 (xix) regarding naturalisation and aliens, and s 51 (xxvii) regarding immigration and emigration. The principal Federal Act is the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), which is the legislative basis of all forms of migration and visa applications in Australia, including humanitarian assistance.
The immigration program has two components:
The humanitarian program has two components:
See information about the department's Refugee and Humanitarian Program, including:
See also LEGENDcom (UniMelb staff & student access) - a database of Australian migration and citizenship legislation and policy documents from the Department of Immigration.
Refugee and Humanitarian Cases and Commentaries - very useful and up to date commentary, illustrated by significant cases. On the Lexis Advance online service, Immigration Law in Australia (UniMelb staff & students).
Precis, the Monthly Decisions Bulletin, is published on the Refugee Review Tribunal website. This summarises a selection of recently published Tribunal decisions and Country Advice, selected summaries of High Court, Federal Court and Federal Magistrates Court judgments and legislation updates. An email alert can be set up to this service.
Refugee cases are heard in the following Australian courts and tribunal:
Australia and Refugees 1901-2002: An Annotated Chronology Based on Official Sources - from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Archives (open access). This Chronology provides an excellent overview of the history of government policy towards immigration and refugees law in Australia - from the White Australia policy through to 2003. Section 1 notes that "Australia did not have an explicit refugee policy, separate from its general immigration policy, until the late 1970s. Australia certainly received refugees prior to the 1970s but it was in response to the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s that a comprehensive, ongoing, approach was adopted.
Refugee and Humanitarian Cases and Commentaries - a very useful and up to date introduction to the topic in the Lexis Advance online service, Immigration Law in Australia (UniMelb staff & students).
Halsbury's Laws of Australia Title 77 - Citzenship and Migration on Lexis Advance is a good starting point for your research into Australian refugee law. Halsbury's provides up to date commentary and links to relevant caselaw and legislation.
To get there, scroll to this title in the alphabetical list, then click the + button which opens the menu - click on 3: Migration > E: Visas > VI: Visa Classes > F: Refugee and Humanitarian Visas. You can then browse to the relevant entry eg: 77-615 - Definition of 'Refugee'.