Asylum Seeker

A person who is applying for refugee protection but is still awaiting a final outcome to their claim.

APOD - Alternative Place of Detention

A legislative designation for a detention centre which allows children to be held there.

Boat Number/ID

The number allocated to a person seeking asylum who arrived by boat. This number is created by a three letter abbreviation of the name given to the boat on which they arrived, and a three-digit number allocated to the individual. Eg. ABC123.

Bridging Visa

Often a short-hand reference to a Bridging Visa E. This is a non-substantive visa that allows a person to live lawfully in the community while their claim for refugee protection is being processed.

Community Detention

This is not a visa. This is a program that is part of immigration policy allowing a person seeking asylum to reside lawfully in a place in the community designated by the minister. Allows for full freedom of movement as long as the person sleeps at the designated address. Can be revoked by the Minister at any time.

Complementary Protection

Protection that can be given to a person who does not fit the legal threshold of refugee status, but for whom a real risk of significant harm exists if they are returned to their country of origin. This protection is offered on the basis of Australia being signatory to a number of other international conventions and is not part of Australia’s obligations under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951.

Convention Country

Shorthand terminology often used to refer to countries who have signed and ratified the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951.


The power within the Australian Migration Act to remove non-citizens who have criminal convictions or whose conduct warrants them being detained and forced to leave Australia.

Durable Solution

This is the recognised ideal outcome for refugees, and is terminology used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There are three recognised durable solutions for refugees: resettlement, local integration (in country of first asylum) or voluntary repatriation.

Fast Track Processing

A processing system implemented by Australia in legislation at the end of 2014, which requires refugee determination systems to occur quickly, gives short timeframes for claimants to submit information, and removes tribunal review rights.

IDC - Immigration Detention Centre

An immigration detention centre generally used to house single men only, with higher levels of security and security hardware.

IOM - International Organisation for Migration

An inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration that works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. Works internationally to promote ‘humane and dignified migration’ by providing services to both governments and migrants. Is contracted by the Australian government to provide voluntary return assistance to asylum seekers who wish to return to their country of origin.

ITA - Immigration Transit Accommodation

A type of immigration detention centre, generally smaller in size than others and housing both single men and families in separate compounds.


A person who makes a choice to relocate to a different country.

Offshore Program

This is a shorthand reference to Australia’s humanitarian program that provides resettlement to refugees in various parts of the world, through referral from the UNHCR.

Onshore Program

This is a shorthand reference to the program that assesses the protection claims of people who apply for asylum from within Australia, whether arriving by boat or plane and with or without a valid visa.


According to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951, as amended by its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention), a refugee is a person who is:

  • outside their own country and
  • has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his/ her race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group or political opinion, and is
  • unable or unwilling to return.
Refugee Convention

Shorthand for The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. The convention consolidates previous international instruments relating to refugees and provides the most comprehensive codification of the rights of refugees at the international level. In contrast to earlier international refugee instruments, which applied to specific groups of refugees, the 1951 Convention endorses a single definition of the term ‘refugee’ in Article 1. The emphasis of this definition is on the protection of persons from political or other forms of persecution. The Refugee Convention can be found here: http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf

Refugee Status Determination

The process of determining a person’s claim to be a refugee.


A key concept in international law relating to refugees, refoulement refers to the expelling or return of a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This is expressly prohibited for signatory countries in Article 33(1) of the Refugee Convention. This includes the prohibition of this act in relation to a person seeking asylum without properly considering their claim for refugee protection.


A mandatory consequence for all unlawful non-citizens; that is, it must apply to any non-citizen who does not hold a valid visa. The circumstance of being without a valid visa can arise in two ways: either a visa was never issued or it was cancelled. Sections 189 and 198 require immediate detainment of unlawful non-citizens and removal ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’. Non-citizens whose visas have been cancelled on character grounds (including grounds arising from criminal offences) must be detained and removed from Australia.

RPC - Regional Processing Centre

A detention centre located in an offshore location supported by Australia, to which the Australian government sends people seeking asylum in Australia to have their refugee status determined and to prevent them from accessing a durable solution or protection in Australia. Currently, Australia has several RPCs. They are located on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and in the Republic of Nauru.


Shorthand for the process of supporting refugees to settle in Australia and integrate into Australian communities. Successful settlement is holistic and means different things to different people of refugee background.

SHEV - Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

A type of temporary protection visa granted to people found to be refugees in Australia. The SHEV is valid for five years but may provide a pathway to a permanent residency visa for those who meet certain criteria while holding that visa.

SIEV - Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel

Term used by Australian authorities for sea vessels that arrive in Australian waters and appear to be attempting to reach Australia without prior authorisation.

SRSS - Status Resolution Support Services

A suite of programs funded by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to provide case management and other types of support for people seeking asylum in Australia.

TPV - Temporary Protection Visa

A type of temporary protection visa granted to people found to be refugees in Australia. This visa allows the person to remain in Australia for three years, after which time their refugee status is re-assessed.


A person either residing in or subject to transfer to a Regional Processing Centre (RPC).


The United Nations body responsible for the protection of the rights and wellbeing of refugees across the world. More information can be found here: www.unhcr.org.

Voluntary Return

Shorthand for the return of a person seeking asylum to their country of origin by choice. In this process the person may receive support from the International Organisation for Migration.