Financial Cost

The human cost of offshore detention is undeniable. But it also economically unsound.


Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the cost  of the detention and processing of asylum seekers who arrived by boat increased from $118.4 million to $3.3 billion. *

In 2014, the National Commission of Audit also reported that, for an asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa while their claim is processed was 10% of the cost of the holding an asylum seeker in offshore detention. *

In addition, a 2011 study has indicated that the cost of mental health care over the course of one person’s lifetime can increase by up to 50% more than the average person IF that person has been held for a lengthy period in immigration detention.


Another research conclusion worth noting is that refugees bring material, cultural and demographic benefits to the communities in which they settle. While they may find it difficult to get jobs initially, over time their labour participation rate increases and they can make a significant economic contribution.

As noted in the Kaldor Centre report (also referenced above, with details at the foot of this page):

Even anecdotal stories underline the significant difference in holding people in offshore detention vs onshore processing …

Before the offshore detention policy, people like Munjed and Najeeba had their claims processed over a period of months.

But now refugees are incarcerated in inhumane conditions FOR YEARS.

So … financial logic – as well as legal and humanitarian obligation – would suggest that an investment in expedient ONSHORE processing would make better use of taxpayers’ money …


So if you’ve already made an effort to EMAIL EMPATHY,



* This information is from the Kaldor Centre report on The Cost of Australia’s Asylum Policy  which lists among its sources:

National Commission of Audit
Australian National Audit Office
Senate Estimates
Federal Budget
Committee inquiries 
Studies of detention costs
The report can be accessed by clicking on the links above or you can access the full Kaldor Centre website by clicking on the logo above right.

The other reports utilised are references contained within the Kaldor Centre report e.g.
 “Long-term health costs of extended mandatory detention of asylum seekers” by Dr Tony Ward, an economist and director of Milbur Consulting.

Links to all of these reports/documents can be found within The Cost of Australia’s Asylum Policy