Mythbusters! Part 2

More busted myths, once again taken from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Mythbusters 2010.

MYTH 6: Australia is one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to the number of refugees we accept into our country.


  • According to the UNHCR there were some 43.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2009. This includes 15.2 million refugees, 983,4200 asylum-seekers (pending cases) and 26 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).
  • When we look globally here is how we sit in comparison to the top 10 refugee receiving countries in the world: (4)


Pakistan – 1,740,711

Iran – 1,070,488

Syria – 1,054,466

Germany – 593,799

Jordan – 450,756

Kenya – 358,928

Chad – 338,495

China – 300,989

Vietnam – 339,300

Eritrea – 209,200

Australia – 22 548 (5)

MYTH 7: The freezing of the processing of Afghan asylum seeker cases is lawful.


  • The suspension policy involves discrimination on the basis of country of origin and nationality. Accordingly, the policy infringes the principle of non – discrimination contained in Article 3 of the Refugee Convention, as well as other instruments such as Article 26 of the ICCPR and Article 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.
  • Furthermore, the prolonged detention of persons for the duration of the suspension of processing of their refugee claims amounts to arbitrary detention in contravention of Article 9 (1) of the ICCPR.(6)

MYTH 8: Asylum Seekers in the community receive four times the income from Centrelink that Australian Aged Pensioners do.


  • No asylum seekers are eligible for Centrelink payments of any kind (7).
  • A small percentage of asylum seekers get access to the Red Cross Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme for a limited period of time. This scheme provides for an income that is 89% of what a person would get if receiving Newstart Allowance.
  • Permanent refugees are eligible to receive Centrelink benefits just the same as any Australian permanent resident.

MYTH 9: The majority of asylum seekers come by boat to Australia.


  • In Australia, the vast majority of asylum seekers applying for protection arrive originally by air with a valid visa and then apply for asylum at a later date while living in the community. Estimates vary, but it is likely that between 96 and 99 percent of asylum applicants arrived by air originally.(8)

MYTH 10: Australia takes its fair share of the world refugees and displaced people.

FACT 10:

  • This year, we will receive just 0.03% of the world’s refugees and displaced people. That is 13,750 of the 43.3 million refugees and displaced people in the world.

MYTH 11: Australia already takes too many refugees.

FACT 11:

  • Last year Australia provided just 13,507 places in total for refugee and humanitarian entrants to Australia. This figure includes all people who we receive onshore and offshore by air and sea.(9) For 2009-10, Australia plans to take 13,750 refugees, an increase of only 243 from last year.(10)
  • When compared to all permanent arrivals through migration (including temporary residents given permanency), theRefugee and Humanitarian Program is 6.6% of the overall migration program, close to its lowest level in 35 years.(11)

MYTH 12: Asylum Seekers are placing Australia at risk of an unsustainable population boom.

FACT 12:

  • In 2009 the Department of Immigration granted 4,338,427 permanent and temporary visas, refugeesand humanitarian entrants made up just 0.31% of all visas granted for the year.(12)

MYTH 13: Australia is being flooded by asylum seekers compared to other Industrialised Countries.

FACT 13:

  • In 2009, Australia received 6170 asylum applications, just 1.6% of the 377,160 applications received across 44 industrialised nations.(13)

MYTH 14: We have more people seeking asylum by boat due to the Labor Party being soft on asylum seekers.

FACT 14:

  • Most number of asylum seekers to come by boat in a calendar year to Australia: (14)

2001 – 5,516 people – Howard

1999 – 3,721 people – Howard

2000 – 2939 people – Howard

2009 – 2,750 people – Rudd

MYTH 15: Australia gets more asylum seekers than other Western Countries.

FACT 15:

  • There were 20 industrialised countries who received more asylum seekers than Australia based on a per capita basis in 2009 (15).
  • Countries that received more asylum seekers than Australia in 2009 included: England (29,800), Germany (27,600),Norway (17,230) Belgium (17,190), Greece (15,930), Austria (15,830), Netherlands (14,910), Switzerland (14,490), Poland (10,590) and Turkey (7,830).


4 UNHCR (2009) Global Trends,

5 UNHCR uses onshore protection numbers over 10 years for industrialised countries. Australia took a total of 13 500 refugees (onshore & offshore) in 2009.

6 Human Rights Law Resource Centre,


8 Parliamentary Library,

9 DIAC Annual Report (2008-09),

10 DIAC,

11 Refugee Council of Australia,

12 DIAC Annual Report (2008-09),

13 UNCHR (2009) Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries,

14 Parliamentary Library,

15 UNCHR (2009) Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries,


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