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The Refugee Council of Australia - 2014-15 FEDERAL BUDGET IN BRIEF

posted May 22, 2014, 2:44 PM by Sean Donovan
Andrew Williams from the Refugee Council of Australia writes:

Each year, RCOA produces a summary of refugee-related spending in the Federal Budget. These summaries analyse spending in a range of areas including the Refugee and Humanitarian Program intake, the general migration program, settlement services, multicultural affairs, reception and processing of asylum seekers, immigration detention, border and regional security measures, overseas aid and multilateral assistance, broader human rights measures and operations of the Department of Immigration.

Attached is a summary of the 2014-15 Budget.

The Refugee Council of Australia represents non-government organisations and individuals working with and for refugees in Australia and around the world.

Suite 4A6, 410 Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia
Phone: (02) 92119333 ● Fax: (02) 92119288
admin@refugeecouncil.org.au● Web: www.refugeecouncil.org.au
Incorporated in ACT ● ABN 87 956 673 083

2014-15 FEDERAL BUDGET IN BRIEF: WHAT IT MEANS FOR REFUGEES AND

PEOPLE SEEKING HUMANITARIAN PROTECTION


KEY POINTS

· The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will provide 13,750 places, reduced from 20,000 in
2012-13 but remaining the same as the revised 2013-14 Program allocation.
· Settlement services funding via the Department of Social Services will be $142.8 million in 2014-
15.
· The total costs for onshore detention-related services, community release, status resolution and
offshore asylum seeker management will be $2.96 billion.
· $957.9 million has been allocated to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service for
border enforcement.
· The Government has reduced aid spending by $7.6 billion over five years, starting from 2013-14.

REFUGEE AND HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM

· The 2014-15 Refugee and Humanitarian Program will provide 13,750 places. 11,000 places will
be reserved for refugee and humanitarian entrants offshore, including 4,000 reserved for people
applying through the Special Humanitarian Program. There will be 1,000 places allocated under
the Woman at Risk program (down from 1,673 allocated in 2012-13).
· Temporary visa grants to refugees who arrived in Australia without visas will be in addition to the
13,750 grants under the Refugee and Humanitarian Program.

GENERAL MIGRATION PROGRAM

· The 2014-15 Migration Program will remain static at 190,000 places and maintain 128,550 skilled
stream places, 60,885 family stream places and 565 special eligibility places.
· The changes to the Program will be via the Family Stream: additional partner and child places will
be made available as a result of the cessation of new applications from the other family and parent
(non‑contributory) places.
· The allocation of 4,000 additional Family Stream places for people found to be owed protection in
Australia to reunite with immediate family members -- a result of the recommendation by the Expert
Panel on Asylum Seekers in 2012 – has been removed.

SETTLEMENT SERVICES

· The Settlement Services allocation within the Department of Social Services (DSS) budget includes
current Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), Settlement Grants Program (SGP) and National
Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) services, as well as grants for peak
bodies. Total funding for this area has increased to $142.8 million, due to the rollover of $16.2
million in funds from 2013-14 for HSS services for refugee and humanitarian entrants granted visas
in 2013-14.
· Almost all SGP services which are funded until 30 June 2014 will get a six-month extension. Only a
small number of projects which have reached a natural end, where there is no ongoing need for
services, will not be extended. SGP services will not be required to seek an extension themselves,
as the extension of SGP services will be initiated by DSS. This extension will give services an
opportunity to apply for funding in the next round.
· HSS funding will continue in 2014-15, in line with the three-year renewal of HSS contracts which
took place in April 2014.
· Funding for Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP) in 2014-2015 will be $236.0 million, with a
target of assisting 57,000 migrants and humanitarian entrants. This is $28.5 million less than the
estimated budget of 2013-2014, but $50.6 million more than the revised budget for last year. An
evaluation of AMEP will be undertaken over June-October 2014, conducted in accordance with the
Department of Finance expenditure review principles.
· The Government will provide $19 million in 2014-2015 and $16 million in 2015-2016 for the
supervision and welfare of unaccompanied humanitarian minors. This is an increase from last
year’s $11.6 million.
· The Government will provide $85.2 million in 2014-15 to provide support services to people who
arrived by boat and were found to be owed protection (people owed protection but with some form
of temporary substantive visa). The allocation will gradually increase each year, with a total of $574
million to be allocated over five years (beginning in 2013-14). The majority of the funds will be
allocated through DSS. This measure will provide temporary visa holders with access to torture and
trauma support and Complex Case Support where appropriate and will provide the full range of
employment services support through Job Services Australia to assist them in gaining employment.
These temporary visa holders will be subject to mainstream mutual obligation requirements, such
as Job Search or Work for the Dole.
· The Diversity and Social Cohesion Program (DSCP) is being rolled into the multicultural affairs
activities of DSS’ Strengthening Communities Program. The allocation for this program in 2014-15
is $27.3 million, a reduction of $33 million on the funds allocated in 2013-14. This reduction is
largely the result of the ceasing of the Building Multicultural Communities Program and the
Empowering Local Communities Program.

IMMIGRATION DETENTION AND COMPLIANCE (ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE)

· In 2014-15, the Australian Government will spend $2.963 billion on detention and community
placements services inside and outside of Australia. The total costs of offshore asylum seeker
management (for asylum seekers arriving by boat) will be $826.1 million. Over $1.85 billion has
been allocated in 2014-15 for detention services and community placements of asylum seekers
within Australia.
· The Government seeks to save $77.5 million over five years from 2013‑14 by renegotiating and
consolidating offshore processing centre service provider contracts. Over $767.9 million has been
awarded for 2014-15 to contractors for offshore processing services.
· The Government will close nine detention facilities (Aqua and Lilac on Christmas Island; Curtin;
Darwin Airport Lodge; Inverbrackie; Leonora; Northern; Pontville; Port Augusta; and Scherger),
seeking to save $283.3 million over four years. The Government will also extend the leases for the
Blaydin and Wickham Point detention facilities in the Northern Territory as well as upgrade some
remaining facilities. Savings are partially offset by expenditure associated with increasing
cooperation between the Commonwealth and the Australian Federal Police and State and Territory
Police services.
· The Government will provide $217.6 million over five years (including $28.3 million in capital) to
upgrade infrastructure on Christmas Island in order to support the rapid transfer (within 48 hours)
of people arriving by boat and subject to transfer to Offshore Processing Centres. This measure
includes funding for health infrastructure which will reduce the need to transfer people to the
Australian mainland for assessment and treatment of health issues.
· The Government has allocated $2.6 million in 2014-15 to fund access to full-time school education
for all school-aged asylum seeker children on Christmas Island.
· The Government seeks to achieve savings of $18.6 million over four years by expanding the
Offshore Biometrics Program beyond the 20 countries where it currently operates and introducing
user-pays arrangements for visa services and biometric collection services with third-party service
delivery partners. The Government will provide $2.0 million in capital funding over two years for
biometric systems software and equipment to expand the program.

STATUS RESOLUTION AND SUPPORT FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS

· $149.9 million has been allocated over five years to fund a range of reforms to compliance,
removal and network management arrangements for the “legacy caseload” of asylum seekers who
arrived in Australia by boat before 19 July 2013.
· $3 million has been allocated to the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme
(IAAAS). The Government expects to achieve savings of $2.1 million over four years by removing
IAAAS support at the review stage for asylum seekers who arrived in Australia valid visas.
· $27.8 million has been allocated to the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS) and Community
Assistance Support (CAS) program for asylum seekers living in the community.
· The Government will introduce a Mutual Obligations Community Engagement Activities Pilot for 300
to 400 people who arrived by boat and who hold a Bridging Visa. The Pilot is intended to provide
participants with skills to enhance work readiness if they are found to be owed protection and will
be delivered in three streams: workplace readiness activities; community improvement activities;
and community volunteering activities.
· From 1 July 2015, all Commonwealth merits review tribunals (with the exception of the Veterans
Review Board) will be amalgamated into a single body. The amalgamated body will take on the
functions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the Migration
Review Tribunal- Refugee Review Tribunal and the Classification Review Board.

BORDER SECURITY, DISRUPTION ACTIVITIES AND REGIONAL COOPERATION

· The Government has allocated $1.2 billion to the Australian Customs and Border Protection
Service (ACBPS), the vast majority of which ($957.9 million) will be dedicated to border
enforcement.
· $3.7 million has been allocated in 2014-15 only for international engagement activities to prevent
and disrupt maritime people smuggling. ACBPS officials will be stationed in Indonesia, Malaysia
and Sri Lanka.
· $6.4 million has been allocated over two years to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for
anti-people smuggling initiatives, including a dedicated position in Sri Lanka, the continuation of
the Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues and annual Bali Process meetings.
· $60.3 million has been allocated over two years until June 2015 to Operation Resolute, the
Australian Defence Force’s border protection operation.
· $1.0 million has been allocated over 2013-14 and 2014-15 for the activities of the Special Envoy
for Operation Sovereign Borders.
· Two retired Bay Class vessels will be donated to Malaysia in 2015-16 to assist regional efforts to
combat people smuggling.
· $78.8 million, plus an additional $13.2 million in departmental expenses, has been allocated to
regional cooperation and capacity building activities to “strengthen the migration and border
management capabilities of partner governments”. This will include activities to prevent and deter
irregular movement, support harmonisation of asylum systems across the region and support
international organisations providing services for irregular migrants intercepted en route to
Australia.
· Funding of $86.8 million will be allocated over three years from 2013-14 for regional cooperation
arrangements in Indonesia which will focus on supporting asylum seekers.
· $1.8 million has been allocated in 2014-15 to the Regional Support Office established through the
Bali Process but no further allocations are included in forward estimates.

OVERSEAS AID AND MULTILATERAL ASSISTANCE

· The total aid budget for 2014-15 is $5.0 billion, representing 0.32% of Australia’s Gross National
Income (GNI). The United Nations’ recommended aid allocation is 0.7% of GNI.
· Following the recommendation of the Commission of Audit, the Government will no longer aim to
increase the aid budget to 0.5% of GNI. Instead, the aid budget will remain static for 2014-15 and
2015-16 then increase in line with the Consumer Price Index from 2016-17 onwards. This will
result in a reduction of $7.6 billion in aid spending over five years, starting from 2013-14.
· $338.6 million has been allocated to humanitarian, emergencies and refugee expenditure in 2014-
15, up from $264.2 million in 2013-14. This includes an increase of the Emergency Fund from $90
million to $120 million.
· The majority of the $375 million diverted from the overseas aid budget last year to meet the costs
of supporting asylum seekers in Australia has been restored. Only $4.6 million will continue to be
allocated for this purpose until July 2014, after which time the diversion of funds from the aid
budget will cease.
· Spending on aid will increase in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific ($1.06 billion in 2013-14 to
$1.15 billion in 2014-15, with around two-thirds of this increase, or $58 million, allocated to Papua
New Guinea alone). Spending will remain relatively steady in Indonesia and East Asia ($1.34 billion
to $1.32 billion) and South and West Asia ($435.9 million to $438.8 million). Spending will
decrease in Africa and the Middle East ($344.8 million to $252.4 million) and in Latin America and
the Caribbean ($29.6 million to $21.1 million). The Government intends to phase out aid programs
for to Latin America and the Caribbean entirely.
· There have been several significant changes to aid allocations for key refugee-producing countries.
Aid to Burma will increase from $81.4 million to $90.million, while aid to Afghanistan will drop from
$149.3 million to $134.2 million. Aid to Iraq is being phased out, dropping from $4.1 million to
$300,000.
· $111.9 million has been allocated to United Nations humanitarian agencies1 (up from $104.8
million), including $21.0 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (up from
$19.0 million) and $20.3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees (up from $19.8 million). The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
will receive $26.6 million (up from $22.0 million).
· The Displaced Persons Program administered by the Department of Immigration and Border
Protection will cease from 2013-14.

BROADER HUMAN RIGHTS MEASURES

· $27.2 million has been allocated to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2014-15.
· Funding for the Commonwealth Human Rights Education Program (about $300,000 per year) will
cease.
· The Government seeks to save $400,000 per year by reducing the number of special-purpose
Commissioners from the current seven to six.

OTHER MEASURES

· From July 2015, the Government will combine the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to create a single agency, the Australian
Border Force.
· The core funding of RCOA will remain at $140,000.

1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), World Food Program (WFP), United Nations
Central Emergency Response Fund (UNCERF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).


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