A significant body of medical evidence exists to demonstrate that prolonged, indefinite immigration detention causes or exacerbates serious mental illness. The period of detention for asylum seekers in both onshore and offshore immigration centres has continued to rise under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, with a steady increase since May 2015.
The figures coincide with a $1 billion budget-expansion by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), outlined in the DIBP’s February 2016 mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO). In April 2014, the National Commission of Audit reported that between 2009-2010 and 2013-14 annual expenditure on the detention and processing of asylum seekers who arrived by boat increased from $118.4 million to $3.3 billion. The Commission reported that it costs:
- $400,000 a year to hold an asylum seeker in offshore detention;
- $239,000 to hold them in detention in Australia;
- less than $100,000 for an asylum seeker to live in community detention; and
- around $40,000 for an asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa while their claim is processed.
More about the costs of Australia’s asylum policy…