Australia has now issued visas to more than half the additional 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees that it committed to resettle a year ago.
As of 2 September, 6678 visas have been issued and 3532 of these people have settled in Australia.
Another 6293 people have been interviewed and assessed as meeting threshold requirements for a visa. These people are awaiting the outcome of health, character and security checks.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said it was vital those checks were carried out before the granting of a visa.
“The Government’s prime responsibility is to protect the Australian community and Australians would understand that these checks must be carried out in the current global security environment.
“As a Government we made it clear at the outset this special intake would take time to fulfil, that processing would be thorough, that there would be no shortcuts,” Mr Dutton said.
With the additional Syrian/Iraqi intake beginning in late 2015, the 2015-16 Humanitarian Programme was the largest offshore programme in more than 30 years with 15,552 visas issued. In total 17,555 visas were granted under the programme to June 30.
The 2015-16 Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP) grants was also the largest in more than a decade at 7268.
“This reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to helping address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq and to assist those most in need,” Mr Dutton said.
“The Government’s successful border protection policies in stopping the boats and ending illegal maritime arrivals have created more places so vulnerable people can be resettled in Australia.”
Refugee and SHP visas were granted to people from three priority regions; the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The three largest caseloads in the offshore programme were Syrians, Iraqis and people from Myanmar.
In the 2015-16 programme year more than 8600 visas were granted to people displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
In 2015-16, women at risk remained a key priority in the offshore programme. A total of 1277 visas were granted to vulnerable women and children, representing more than 15 per cent of all refugee visas.
The Government’s commitment to vulnerable women and children will continue in the 2016-17 programme year.