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Helping Refugees

See how you can help refugees build a new life in Australia.

​​​​​​​​​Media Hub

Australia has a long and proud tradition of resettling refugees and vulnerable people in humanitarian need. The refugees who come here are seeking protection from conflict and trauma – which many of us, growing up in Australia, are fortunate to have never experienced.

The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) has responsibility for the settlement of refugees in Australia.

This page provides media with information and resources about the settlement process.

Frequently Asked Questions​​

Refugee settlement and services in Australia

Q. How does refugee settlement work in Australia?

A. Once refugees have been granted visas and begin to arrive in Australia, the Department is responsible for providing settlement support and assistance.

The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) provides support to humanitarian entrants to build the skills and knowledge they need to become self-reliant and active members of the Australian community.

The HSP is delivered on behalf of the Australian Government by ​​five service providers in 11 contract regions across Australia. Participation is voluntary and services are delivered to clients through a needs-based case management approach.

HSP service providers support clients to achieve outcomes in the following areas as a foundation for successful settlement:

  • Employment
  • Education and training
  • Housing
  • Physical and mental health and well-being
  • Managing money
  • Community participation and networking
  • Family functioning and social support
  • Justice
  • Language services

The HSP is designed to work in combination with other settlement and mainstream services. It has a strong focus on assisting clients to learn English and gain necessary education and employment skills in recognition that positive outcomes in these areas help humanitarian entrants integrate into Australian life.  

Q. How is it determined where humanitarian entrants will live?

A. The Department encourages regional settlement as much as possible, in all states and territories.

For most Humanitarian visa holders, the decision on where to live is influenced by where family, friends or proposers are living. Being with people they know provides crucial informal settlement support.

A large number of refugees are entering Australia on Special Humanitarian visas, which means they have been proposed by a relative or connection already here. This often influences their preference of where to live. Being with people they know provides crucial informal settlement support.

In some cases, this results in a number of humanitarian entrants living in particular metropolitan areas. This is not surprising given there are large ethnic communities established in particular metropolitan cities and a majority of the proposers are from these areas.

Although some entrants are settled in regional centres, humanitarian entrants are permanent residents and are able to move freely once they arrive in Australia.

In choosing the settlement locations of humanitarian entrants without sponsors or family links, the Department considers the availability of:

  • specific settlement services
  • opportunities for employment
  • other community links
  • availability of mainstream services such as health and education
  • the size and ethnic / cultural / religious composition of potential settlement communities
  • the potential for the harmonious settlement of the specific group.

For more information, visit Settlement Services.

Q. Why have certain areas been chosen as settlement locations?
A. A number of factors are taken into account when selecting settlement locations. The Australian Government works to ensure the best assistance possible is provided to each person when they arrive in Australia, and in the months ahead as they settle into their new life. Some of the considerations include:

  • availability of mainstream services such as health and education
  • opportunities for employment
  • the size and ethnic / cultural / religious composition of potential settlement communities
  • the potential for the harmonious settlement of the specific group.

For a list of all humanitarian settlement locations visit the Humanitarian Settlement Program Locator.

Q. Do councils know when refugees are being settled in their region?

A. The Australian Government plans for and delivers support to migrants and refugees in partnership with state, territory, and local governments.

HSP providers must develop and maintain close links with a broad network of service delivery agencies, including local government. HSP providers will ensure regular engagement with stakeholders to identify local area needs and collaborate on the development of solutions.

For more information see the National Settlement Framework.

Q. What social security benefits will the refugees be entitled to?

A. People arriving under the Australia's Humanitarian Program are eligible to access the same benefits and support provided to other residents and citizens of Australia. These include employment services, Medicare and income support payments.

Refugees have the same social security entitlements as all other permanent residents—they do not receive special refugee payments or special rates of payment.

Q. Will these refugees seek employment in Australia?

A. Refugees are selected as part of Australia's commitment to contributing to international efforts to protect and resettle refugees and to meet important international obligations. Newly settled refugees often undergo a period of adjustment and require training, such as English language tuition, before seeking employment.

Refugees can make significant economic contributions to Australia by helping to fill labour shortages and through their contribution to supply and demand. Like any other significant number of new migrants, they bring a range of skills, knowledge, and innovative work and business practices.

Q. What are the employment prospects for refugees?

Most refugees have a strong desire to work and, through employment, make a valuable contribution to their local community and to Australia.

Many employers already benefit from the unique skills, international experience and diverse cultural perspectives they bring to the workforce.

An important component of the settlement journey is to assist refugees to either enrol in education, or find a job. The Department funds settlement service providers in 24 locations around Australia to help refugees build on their individual strengths, and become independent.

To view or read the personal stories of refugees, and their journey to employment, visit Helping Refugees.

Q. How will these refugees be accommodated?

A. The Department funds HSP providers to assist newly arrived humanitarian entrants to build a life in Australia.

Settling new arrivals into accommodation is a normal part of the settlement process and there is sufficient housing to meet this need under the HSP program.

Humanitarian entrants must meet the same requirements as other Australians to be eligible for public housing. They are not given preferential treatment and must remain on waiting lists, as do other Australians in need of public housing. Most find accommodation in the private rental market, where they apply for properties on the same basis as other Australians.  

When making decisions about the settlement of refugee families in the community, the Department takes into account the family size and availability of appropriate accommodation.

Q How does the Department fund humanitarian entrants?

To provide initial settlement support, the Department funds settlement service providers in 24 locations across Australia to provide a tailored package to meet each individual's needs.

Service providers receive payment for each client they support through the Australian Government's Humanitarian Settlement Program.

The Department also funds 80 organisations across Australia under our Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program to help people settle into their new life during their first 5 years.

For more information see the Humanitarian Settlement Program or the SETS webpage.

How people can help

Q. What can people do to help?

A. Australia has a long and proud tradition of resettling refugees and vulnerable people in humanitarian need. Refugees are seeking protection from conflict and trauma the likes of which, many of us could never imagine. Community support is essential to helping people to adjust to their new homes and ensuring a smoother settlement process.

Many businesses, the corporate sector, community organisations and individuals have made wonderful offers of support for people who settled in Australia.

The needs of people arriving are varied, as are the ways in which people may be able to help. The Department provides information about ways people can help refugees to settle into their new life in Australia.

Fact sheets