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Learn about Asylum Seekers

Who are asylum seekers?

An asylum seeker is a person who has left their country of origin and has applied for protection as a refugee to a government or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has a right to seek and enjoy in countries asylum from persecution.

Asylum seekers in Australia

The majority of asylum seekers who come to Australia and ask the Australian government for protection arrive by plane with a valid visa, such as a student or tourist visa. They are allowed to live freely in the community on this visa or a bridging visa, while their claims for protection are processed.

Others arrive by boat without a valid visa and are termed Irregular Maritime Arrivals. This is legal according to the UN Convention on the Refugee of which Australia is a signatory. Irregular Maritime Arrivals are routinely held in detention centres, such as on Christmas Island, when they first arrive, and eventually have been housed either in an Immigration Detention Centre, in Community Detention or released to live freely in the community on a Bridging Visa E (BVE). Irregular Maritime Arrivals who arrive in Australia after August 2012 may be moved to an offshore location for the processing of their protection claims.

Please refer to the website of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for the most up to date information as the situation in relation to asylum seekers is continually changing.

Services for asylum seekers

Asylum seekers in Australia may be eligible for some services while waiting for their protection claims to be processed depending on their circumstances. This is constantly changing and it’s best to contact one of the services below to find out what they are currently offering. STARTTS does provide services to asylum seekers. Read more.


Useful links for more information about asylum seekers in Australia

Department of Immigration and Citizenship
Red Cross
Asylum Seeker’s Centre
Jesuit Refugee Service
Marist Youth Care
St Vincent de Paul
Burnside
The Salvation Army