Immigration and Refugees

Australia has humanitarian and legal obligations to accept refugees and reunite families. Australian society benefits from immigration.


The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Australia's cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity should be celebrated for greatly enriching our society and economy, and this diversity is enhanced by the immigration of people to Australia.
  2. Immigration must be non-discriminatory on the grounds of nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, level of English language competence, gender, disability, sexuality, age or socioeconomic background.
  3. Australia must uphold its humanitarian and legal obligations to people seeking asylum and refugees, grant refugees protection and reunite families as required by international human rights law and the Refugee Convention 1951 and its Protocol.
  4. Australia must uphold its humanitarian and legal obligations to special category visa holders.
  5. Seeking asylum is a human right. People who enter Australian territory to seek asylum do so lawfully.
  6. Asylum seeking is a humanitarian issue rather than an issue of border security or defence, and people seeking asylum must be treated with compassion, as our equal in rights and dignity.
  7. The treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum must be humane, transparent, predictable and consistent.
  8. Indefinite mandatory detention of refugees and people seeking asylum is a form of arbitrary detention. As such, it is a gross violation of human rights.
  9. Climate change is already a catalyst for the displacement of large numbers of people that will continue to escalate.
  10. A co-operative international response is required to find durable solutions for displaced people.
  11. As a party to the Refugee Convention, Australia must fairly and promptly assess the applications of all people seeking asylum who arrive in Australian territory, including territorial waters, irrespective of their mode of arrival.
  12. Australia has additional responsibilities to refugees from countries where Australian defence personnel have been deployed in conflict situations.
  13. Migrant workers are entitled to fair working conditions.


The Australian Greens want:

  1. A permanent migration program for refugees and migrants to Australia that prioritises family reunion and humanitarian entrants, and facilitates migration or resettlement to Australia within a reasonable time.
  2. The development of networks, materials and programs that increase community understanding of the causes and benefits of migration.
  3. Sufficient funding for public and community sector agencies providing migrant-specific services to deliver adequate, effective and timely support.
  4. A review of the family, skilled and business migration streams to prioritise family reunion and meeting skills shortages.
  5. Skilled migration programs that do not substitute for training or undermine wages and conditions in Australia.
  6. Consistent, timely and fair processes to assess the qualifications of skilled migrants permanently settling in Australia.
  7. Recognition that unaccompanied children have rights and are entitled to special care and assistance, including a separate approach to the adult system, in which the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
  8. No family unit to be forcibly separated by Australian immigration assessment processes.
  9. Greater incentives for rural and regional distribution of refugees and immigrants using successful models for settlement.
  10. Access to Australia’s migration programs, including the family migration program, to not discriminate on the basis of economic circumstances.
  11. The incorporation of relevant international conventions into immigration law to ensure that there is an avenue for complaint when these rights are breached.
  12. Any appointment to tribunals to be independently made in accordance with a predefined formula of civil society representation and legal expertise.
  13. Services for new migrants, refugees and special category visa holders that include appropriate English language and financial literacy classes, social security, health, legal and interpreter services, and post-trauma counselling where needed.
  14. Greater Australian investment in Asia-Pacific regional cooperation to provide safer pathways and long-term planning for people seeking asylum and those displaced by ongoing conflicts and climate change.
  15. Australia to take a leading role in advocating for a new international framework to provide protection and solutions for people at risk of displacement, or displaced, by the impacts of climate change.
  16. Australia to show leadership in our region by fostering international cooperation to protect people seeking asylum and refugees, founded on shared responsibility according to capacity, and by encouraging all nations to sign and ratify and uphold the Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.
  17. Australia to adequately contribute to the funding of, and work closely with, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other agencies assisting in the movement of asylum seekers, refugees and displaced people.
  18. An increase in the humanitarian quota, and offshore quotas fulfilled without reference or linkage to any onshore arrivals or other programs.
  19. Restoration of the Australian migration zone to match Australia's territory and acceptance of responsibility for assessing all asylum claims of people who seek Australia's protection within the migration zone.
  20. People seeking asylum to be fully informed of their rights on arrival and given immediate access to legal support and health care, assisted by interpreters, as required.
  21. The current system of humanitarian visas (granted only by ministerial discretion) to be replaced with an open, accountable humanitarian visa assessment.
  22. Assessment of applications for asylum completed in a timely and transparent manner.
  23. Refugees to be treated with dignity, including within the terminology that is used by Australian Government departments and agencies
  24. The elimination of mandatory and indefinite detention, and the abolition of offshore processing (where a person seeking asylum, refugee or special category visa holder is returned from Australian territory to another nation to be assessed) and other forms of punitive or discriminatory treatment.
  25. Once initial health, security and identity checks are completed within a maximum of seven days, people seeking asylum who arrive without a valid visa or travel documents to be accommodated in the community, unless otherwise ordered by a court, with periodic judicial review thereafter.
  26. All people found to be refugees, but given negative security assessments, to be given the reasons for such assessment, access to legal representation and the opportunity to challenge this in the appropriate forum. They are only to be detained as individually required by court order, with periodic judicial review.
  27. People seeking asylum to have work rights, access to social security, legal representation, interpreters, health care, case management, and appropriate education for the duration of their assessment.
  28. People seeking asylum whose protection visa applications have been denied, and individuals who have had visas cancelled, to be provided with fair and appropriate accommodation until they can be repatriated. Where a person is stateless, they shall be accommodated in the community until they are issued with a visa or another durable solution is found, in accordance with our obligations under the 1954 and 1961 UN Conventions on Statelessness.
  29. Training of immigration decision-makers to enable them to properly assess claims for family reunion or refugee status based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.
  30. Replacement of the Special Category Visa with a permanent residence visa available to all New Zealand citizens on arrival, with the same entitlements of other permanent resident visas.
  31. When a non-citizen is imprisoned for a crime, once initial sentences are completed, they should be accommodated in the community unless otherwise ordered by a court.
  32. Special category visa holders subject to negative character assessments by the Immigration minister to be given reasons for such assessment and the opportunity to challenge this in the appropriate forum
  33. Visa holders subject to character test to have work rights, and access to social security, legal representation, interpreters, health services, case management, and appropriate education for the duration of their assessment.
  34. Australia to recognise people escaping gender violence and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, as refugees belonging to a ‘particular social group’ under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.

(Policy endorsed: May 2018)