Skip to main content


Community arrangements for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons - Recommendations

Community arrangements for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons

Observations from visits conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission from December 2011 to May 2012

2 Recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Australian Government should end the system of
mandatory and indefinite immigration detention.

Recommendation 2: The need to detain should be assessed on a
case-by-case basis taking into consideration individual circumstances. That
assessment should be conducted when a person is taken into immigration detention
or as soon as possible thereafter. A person should only be held in a closed
immigration detention facility if they are individually assessed as posing an
unacceptable risk to the Australian community and that risk cannot be managed in
a less restrictive way. Otherwise, they should be permitted to reside in the
community while their immigration status is resolved – if necessary, with
appropriate conditions imposed to mitigate any identified risks. If a risk to
the community cannot be effectively mitigated, consideration should be given to
whether the person can be placed in a less restrictive form of detention.

Recommendation 3: Australian Government policy should be reformed so
that individuals in immigration detention who have received an adverse security
assessment can be considered for release from detention, or for placement in a
less restrictive form of detention.

Recommendation 4: The Australian Government should comply with its
international human rights obligations by providing for a decision to detain a
person, or a decision to continue a person’s detention, to be subject to
prompt review by a court. To comply with article 9(4) of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
, the court must have the power to
order the person’s release if their detention is not lawful. The
lawfulness of their detention is not limited to domestic legality – it
includes whether the detention is compatible with the requirements of article
9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which
affirms the right to liberty and prohibits arbitrary detention.

Recommendation 5: The Australian Government should work towards a
uniform model of community assessment and placement for asylum seekers,
irrespective of their place or mode of arrival in Australia. An individual
assessment of suitability for community placement should be conducted at the
earliest opportunity post-arrival. Features of such a model should include:

  • Permission for adult asylum seekers placed in the community to seek paid
    employment, irrespective of their level of vulnerability.
  • Opportunities for engagement in meaningful activities, including permission
    to attend English language classes and to enrol in vocational training.
  • A level of income support sufficient to meet basic needs for those who are
    unable to generate an independent income.
  • Access to essential health care and counselling.
  • Full access to formal education for school-aged

Recommendation 6: The Australian Government should
introduce reforms so that refugees who have received adverse security
assessments from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation are provided

  • Information sufficient for them to be reasonably informed of the basis of
    the adverse assessment.
  • Access to merits review by the Security Division of the Administrative
    Appeals Tribunal.
  • Procedural mechanisms to provide for effective merits and judicial review,
    including opportunities for a person to know the basis of their assessment and
    to make submissions on the content of that assessment, either directly or
    through an appropriate person such as a Special

Recommendation 7: The Australian Government should develop a formal statelessness determination mechanism which
recognises both de jure and de facto statelessness, and establish
administrative pathways for the grant of substantive visas to stateless persons
who have been found not to be refugees or otherwise owed protection.

Recommendation 8: A uniform national policy on the use of restrictive
places of detention should be developed and should cover all places of detention
that may be used for observation and segregation. Mental health and suicide
prevention experts should be consulted in the development of this policy. The
policy should specify that there is to be no co-location of people who are
considered to be at risk of suicide or other forms of self-harm with people who
are under observation due to aggressive or threatening behaviours.