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Syrian/Iraqi humanitarian crisis

​Learn more about the Syrian / Iraqi humanitarian crisis and what you can do to help.

What is the Syrian/Iraqi humanitarian crisis?

The conflicts occurring in Syria and Iraq represent one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. More than 11 million people have become displaced due to these conflicts, with most people fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

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What is Australia doing to help?

On 9 September 2015, the Australian Government announced that a total of 12,000 additional Humanitarian Program places would be made available for those who have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Priority for the additional 12,000 Humanitarian Program places is being given to people who are assessed as being the most vulnerable – women, children and families with the least prospect of ever returning safely to their homes.

All families have now arrived in Australia after the final visas under the additional intake were granted in March 2017.

The 12,000 permanent places were in addition to the13,750 places available under Australia's 2016–17 Humanitarian Program. Australia's Humanitarian Program has risen to 16,250 places in 2017-18 and will rise to 18,750 places from 2018-19 onwards.

Australia continues to settle Syrian and Iraqis displaced by the conflicts under the 16,250 places available in the 2017-18 Humanitarian Program.

Australia is also providing support to more than 240,000 Syrian and Iraqi people who have been forced to flee their homes or seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Funding of around $69 million will deliver much needed food, water, healthcare, education, emergency supplies and protection, including support for women and children. Australia's contribution to addressing the humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq is approximately $258 million since 2011. For more information visit the Department of Foreign Affairs' website.

The Australian Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook committed a total of $827 million over four years (2015-16 to 2018-19) to support the 12,000 additional intake, including $142 million for the provision of settlement services.

The Department is responsible for ensuring all applicants for resettlement meet the criteria for Refugee and Humanitarian visas, including health, character and security checks. These checks are thorough and are conducted before individuals are granted a visa to enter Australia. The Australian Government takes our national security extremely seriously and has made clear from the outset that security and character checks of humanitarian entrants will not be compromised.

How will the 12,000 humanitarian entrants be supported to settle in Australia?

Australia's approach to the settlement of migrants and humanitarian entrants is based on several key principles, including providing support based on need, fostering participation in Australian society as soon as possible, fostering welcoming communities and drawing on the valuable skills and expertise of civil society to provide services and support.

It is important to remember that these people are seeking refuge from situations of conflict and trauma that many Australians would find hard to imagine. Some may require an extended period of adjustment once they arrive. Our priority is to support them through this time.

Humanitarian entrants settled in Australia are permanent residents and as such have access to Medicare and income support benefits as any other Australian citizen or permanent resident. They are also eligible to receive English language training, torture and trauma counselling and a range of settlement services that are managed by the Department of Social Services (DSS). Program include:

  • The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program – Humanitarian entrants over the age of five are eligible to attend an AUSCO course before their departure for Australian. AUSCO gives practical advice about the journey to Australia, including quarantine laws and information about what to expect on arrival.
  • Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) – this program provides early practical support to humanitarian entrants for up to 18 months following their arrival in Australia. The program builds skills and knowledge for the social and economic wellbeing of humanitarian entrants through a needs-based case management approach. HSP Service Providers work with clients to identify their needs and goals and develop an individual case management plan. Service Providers support clients to achieve outcomes in: Housing; Physical and Mental Health and Well-being; Managing Money; Community Participation and Networking; Family Functioning and Social Support; Justice; Language Services; Education and Training; and Employment.   
  • Specialised and Intensive Services – Specialised and intensive services under the HSP can be provided to eligible humanitarian entrants with complex or high needs (not met by other settlement services) for up to five years after their arrival in Australia.

Community Hubs

Community Hubs enable refugees and new migrants to fully participate in Australian life. Community Hubs assist people to access government and other services within their local community and provide services ranging from playgroups for pre-school children with multi-lingual storytelling, through to English classes, sewing groups and coffee circles. Hub trained staff and volunteers provide support, advice and mentoring.

There are currently 42 Community Hubs in highly diverse suburbs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Community Hubs are critical in helping Syrian and Iraqi refugee families to transition into Australian life and working with them in their journey beyond immediate settlement.

Media Hub

The Media Hub houses all media releases, FAQs and background information for media.