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Table 6: Purpose 2 – Performance framework



Purpose 2—Prosperous and United Society: Support a prosperous and united Australia through effective coordination and delivery of immigration and social cohesion policies and programs.

Activity 2.1: Effective delivery of orderly and planned immigration and humanitarian programs.

Measure 2.1.1: Migration and visa programs support an open, prosperous and united Australia.

PBS Program 1.3 Onshore Compliance and Detention

PBS Program 2.2 Migration

PBS Program 2.3 Visas

Measure 2.1.2: Refugee and humanitarian programs reflect government priorities and international protection obligations through providing settlement support whilst contributing to global resettlement.

PBS Program 2.4 Refugee, Humanitarian, Settlement and Migrant Services

Measure 2.1.3: Effective regional processing and resettlement deters irregular migration.

PBS Program 1.4 IMA Offshore Management

PBS Program 1.5 Regional Cooperation

Activity 2.2: Support social cohesion and drive the effective delivery of citizenship and multicultural programs.

Measure 2.2.1: Community engagement and effective Citizenship and Multicultural programs support and enhance social cohesion.

PBS Program 2.1 Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship

Purpose 2: At a glance 2019-20

Figure 6 – Purpose 2: At a glance 2019–20

The figure depicts statistics relevant to Purpose 2, including the number of visas lodged online, total revenue collected from visa application charges, citizenship by conferral applications finalised, people acquired citizenship through online ceremonies and humanitarian program places delivered.

Purpose 2: Analysis of performance

COVID-19 and emergency management response

Throughout 2019–20, the Department continued to focus on the effective coordination of the immigration and humanitarian programs and policies and contributed to enhanced social cohesion through promoting Australia’s shared values and effectively managing the Citizenship Program.

The Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been characterised by our agility and collaboration to build Australia’s international competitiveness by attracting the required talent and skills to fill critical labour shortages, facilitate investment and innovation and support key export industries. The Department supported both economic recovery and industry by enabling student visa holders to temporarily work more hours in critical industries to assist with staffing shortages and to ensure the supply of essential goods and services that Australians rely upon were maintained. Flexibility was also provided to working holiday makers working in critical industries of health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare.

The Department analysed the Australian community’s sentiment surrounding COVID-19 and proposed appropriate mitigations to reduce the presence of racism, which emerged in times of adversity. We have effectively demonstrated that the integration of the Portfolio has enabled border, visa, quarantine and social cohesion issues to be considered in a single motion to support a socially cohesive community.


The Department adapted its approach to service delivery under the Citizenship Program to ensure COVID-19-safe service delivery for the Australian community. All face-to-face citizenship test appointments were placed on hold, as the Department moved to confer Australia citizenship through online ceremonies. The ceremonies focused on the legal requirements necessary for clients to acquire citizenship, ensuring strong integrity measures were maintained. This included verifying the client’s identity against Departmental systems and the presiding officer sighting current photo identification for conferees at the commencement of the ceremony. The first online citizenship ceremony was piloted on 31 March 2020. Following its success, the Department progressively rolled out online ceremonies across all Australian jurisdictions. Over 300 Departmental officers were trained and some redeployed to arrange and preside over online ceremonies. From 31 March to 30 June 2020, over 45,000 individuals had acquired citizenship through online ceremonies.

Overall, the Department finalised 228,323 citizenship by conferral applications, a 43 per cent increase on the previous year. The Department continued to progress service delivery improvements through the Citizenship Program National Processing Model Project, pursuing a nationally consistent approach to processing citizenship by conferral applications. The project has improved client experience, contributed to processing efficiencies and ensured that clients receive the same service outcomes regardless of where they are geographically located.

Migration Program

In 2019–20, there was a 24.3 per cent decrease in overall visa lodgements, resulting from the implementation of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and biosecurity measures. Notwithstanding this, the percentage of applications lodged online increased from 93.7 per cent in 2018–19 to 95.8 per cent in 2019–20. A record 204,817 people were conferred citizenship, a 60 per cent increase on 2018–19. The Department continued to implement service delivery enhancements in visa program delivery by progressing digitisation of its services. This was supported by the ongoing implementation of the Channel Management Strategy through the deployment of online lodgement forms for the Distinguished Talent visa in February 2020, and an external communications plan to influence client behaviour and encourage the uptake of online visa lodgements.

The administration of Australia’s Migration Program was significantly impacted by COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions. The Department delivered 140,366 permanent placements, down from 160,323 in 2018–19. Although the number of temporary and permanent visa applications reduced by 2.3 million in comparison to 2018–19, the Department continued to contribute to Australia’s economic prosperity through granting 6.5 million temporary visas, compared to 8.8 million granted in 2018–19. The Department maintained its focus on the integrity of the migration program with 325,637 temporary and permanent (non-humanitarian) visas refused, a decrease of 13.7 per cent on 2018–19.

Despite the significant reduction in people movement in 2019–20, the potential for increases in flows of displaced people and irregular migration continues to present challenges for Australia as an economically and socially attractive nation to reside. Consistent with regional processing arrangements, the Department remained committed to working with partners to resolve the regional processing caseload. While COVID-19 affected United States (US) resettlement processing and outflow in early March 2020, strong planning efforts during Quarter 4 of 2019–20 saw the departure of 83 refugees to resettle in the US. This contributed to the total of 239 refugees resettled in the US in 2019–20 in comparison to 254 in 2018–19.

This brings the total number resettled to 785 at 30 June 2020. As at 30 June 2020, the regional processing population in Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG) was 373, a 54 per cent reduction from 814 in 2018–19.

The Department progressed the Zero Chance messaging campaign, as deterring irregular migration continued to be a priority. The campaign generated deterrence messaging across a range of digital forums. During 2019–20, the campaign had a total reach of 36,825,333 persons in source and transit countries. This continues to contribute to the range of deterrence activities undertaken by the Department to suppress maritime people smuggling activities.

Although the COVID-19 State of Emergency’s in PNG and Nauru, combined with travel restrictions, has challenged service providers the continuity of service delivery has been effectively maintained.

Humanitarian Program

In 2019–20, the Department continued to focus on ensuring that Australia’s humanitarian pathways were orderly and robust to safeguard the integrity of the Humanitarian Program. These planned pathways ensured the Department supports those most in need, and are consistent with international commitments to promote peace and stability. In 2019–20, the Department delivered 13,171 Humanitarian Program places out of the total 18,750 for the 2019–20 reporting year. The Humanitarian Program was not fully delivered in 2019–20 due to the temporary suspension of granting of all offshore Humanitarian visas in March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions. This followed the announcement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration of a suspension of resettlement travel on 16 March 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the Department continued to ensure the program was delivered in line with Government priorities. This included working with regional communities and across all levels of government to increase the number of humanitarian entrants settled in regional Australia, and ensuring the vulnerable women and children category makes up 20 per cent of offshore visa grants.

Detailed performance information related to Purpose 2 and results for each measure is in Purpose 2: Performance information .


Over 25,000 new Australian citizens on Australia Day 2020

On 25 January 2020, the Department collaborated with local government councils and community organisations to deliver 365 citizenship ceremonies across the country. A record number of over 25,000 individuals making up over 146 Nationalities became Australian citizens on this day.

Australian citizenship ceremonies hosted on Australia Day are an important part of our national day. They hold strong significance for new citizens and the broader Australian community and contribute to promoting Australia’s shared values that unite us and underpin our national character—respect, equality, freedom and democracy.

Australian citizenship is a symbol of loyalty to Australia and a commitment to being an active member of our society.


Intelligence response to counter COVID-19 misinformation, disinformation and scams

To respond to the threat of COVID-19 misinformation, disinformation and scams targeting Australians at a time of global crisis, the Department established an All Source Fusion Cell (ASFC) to identify, analyse, assess and make recommendations for action to counter COVID-19 manipulated information activity and monitor key themes and trends in manipulated narratives.

The ASFC draws on information provided by departments and agencies across government and from open source platforms to produce fused summary reports and works closely with domestic and international partners to monitor and assess emerging threats. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an overall surge in reporting to provide increased situational awareness and increased source material for ASFC’s analysis. Since March 2020, the ASFC has produced over 60 reports, and made over 180 referrals to digital industry and law enforcement for further prevention, disruption and strategic communications action to minimise and counter the spread of misinformation and disinformation and to protect Australians from scams.

Purpose 2: Performance information

Table 7: Purpose 2 – Performance information

Note: Items bolded are measures and targets within the Department of Home Affairs 2019–20 PBS.

* indicates a new metric for 2019–20

^ indicated a refined metric for 2019–20

# indicated an existing metric


Effective delivery of orderly and planned immigration and humanitarian programs.


Migration and visa programs support an open, prosperous and united Australia.


RESULTS Labour market outcomes of surveyed skilled migrants 18 months after arrival/visa grant as reported in the Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants: employed >70 per cent / unemployed <10 per cent / not in the labour force <20 per cent #

This metric was met.

Results from the November 2019 Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants show that at 18 months after settlement:

  • 77.4 per cent of surveyed migrants were employed, consistent with results from 2018–19
  • 6.9 per cent of surveyed migrants were unemployed, in comparison to 6.0 per cent in 2018–19
  • 15.7 per cent of surveyed migrants were not in the labour market, which is an improvement by 0.7 percentage points on 2018–19.

Continued positive results from the Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants demonstrates the effectiveness of the Department’s policy settings and programs in ensuring that skilled migrants are integrated into the Australian labour market.

Given the results of the Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants are from November 2019, the impacts of COVID-19 on labour market outcomes are not represented within the survey results. Visa policy settings addresses the skill shortages and reflect the latest information from Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business #

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, 100 per cent of skilled visas were granted in accordance with occupation lists or labour agreement processes. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department ensured that visa policy settings supported critical industries and economic recovery through:

  • temporarily allowing student visa holders to work more hours in critical industries to assist with staffing shortages and maintain supply of essential goods and services
  • providing flexibility to Working Holiday Makers working in critical industries of health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare, with an exemption to the six month work limitation with one employer and eligibility for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months
  • ensuring temporary skilled visa holders who were stood down but not laid off, or had their hours reduced, maintained their visa validity without being in breach of their visa conditions.

The occupation list update scheduled for March 2020 was delayed and is currently under consideration in the context of economic recovery from
COVID-19. The Department implements migration policy and legislative reforms in line with Government priorities*

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, the Department continued to deliver policy and legislative reforms enabling effective delivery of migration and visa programs to support an open, prosperous and united Australia.

Examples of the Department’s policy and legislative reforms in 2019–20:

  • In November 2019, two new regional provisional skilled visas commenced and were available for skilled migrants and their family members who want to live, work and study in regional Australia. The New Skilled Regional Visas (Consequential Amendments Bill) 2019 provided holders of these provisional skilled regional visas with the same access to welfare payments and government services as permanent visa holders where eligible. The final text of the Bill has been agreed to by both houses of Parliament.
  • In January 2020, businesses in Australia’s horticulture industry were able to apply for the new Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement which increases access to skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers for the horticulture industry, where appropriately qualified Australians are unavailable.
  • In February 2020, the Government announced Working Holiday Maker visa holders could extend the time working with one employer from six to 12 months for those assisting with bushfire recovery efforts. The specified work definition for subclass 462 visa holders was changed to include construction work and paid and volunteer disaster recovery work in declared areas impacted as counting towards the specified work requirement for an additional visa.
  • In June 2020, the Acts Package, comprising the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 (the Migration Agents Act) and the Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Amendment (Rates of Charge) Act 2020 (the Charge Act) received Royal Assent. Once implemented, the key change resulting from the Acts Package will be the removal of legal practitioners with unrestricted practising certificates from the regulatory scheme governing migration agents. Increase in the take-up rate for online visa lodgements compared with previous year ^

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, total visa lodgement figures were 5,899,372, representing a decrease of 23.8 per cent compared to the 7,743,038 lodged in 2018–19. This can be attributed to the direct impacts of COVID-19 and the implementation of travel restrictions.

In 2019–20, there were 5,654,275 visa lodgements completed online, a 22.1 per cent decrease compared to the 7,259,084 online lodgements in 2018–19. However, the percentage of applications lodged online increased to
95.8 per cent in 2019–20 from 93.7 per cent in 2018–19.

The Department continues to enhance online lodgement services to increase accessibility and usability.

Examples of the Department’s key activities in 2019–20:

  • The Department deployed an online lodgement form for the Distinguished Talent visa, supported improvements to online lodgement for Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas and Citizenship, and introduced mandatory online lodgement of applications (except for Chinese applicants) for Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visas.
  • Enhancements to online lodgements were delivered, including improvements to automated correspondence and promotion of assisted online lodgement services through third party providers to support clients using online channels.
  • The processing of visitor visa applications lodged online were prioritised in order to direct applicants to online channels, achieve faster outcomes and reduce levels of paper processing.
  • The Department actively targeted India, in partnership with Tourism Australia, by engaging with potential applicants and stakeholders to encourage online visitor visa lodgements.
  • The Department developed an external communications action plan designed to influence client behaviour and encourage the uptake of the online visa application channel globally, consistent with the Channel Management Strategy. 100 per cent of decisions to detain have an initial review initiated within two business days ^

This metric was met.

As at 30 June 2020, 100 per cent of the 1458 decisions to detain that were subject to review had an initial review commenced by the Department within two business days from referral.

This metric differs from the 2018–19 performance measure (100 per cent of decisions to detain are reviewed within 48 hours) in that a review must be initiated, as opposed to being completed in the required time period. In
2018–19, 85 per cent of decisions to detain were reviewed within 48 hours.

The results show that the Department continues to have robust processes in place to ensure the appropriateness of an individual’s immigration detention. Total revenue collected achieves Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) estimates for visa application charges ^

This metric was not met.

In 2019–20, the Department actively collected revenue totalling $2.157 billion from visa application charges (VAC), $433.7 million less than the PAES target of $2.591 billion. VAC revenue collection was down by $173.3 million against the 2018–19 result. This largely reflects the reduction of visa application volumes in 2019–20 primarily due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated border restrictions. 80 per cent of participants of the Adult Migrant English Program demonstrate an increase of one or more levels on the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) *

This metric was partially met.

Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) providers are required to conduct progressive assessments every 200 hours per client. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department suspended these assessments in Quarter 4 to enable providers to focus on transitioning to alternative delivery modes in response to the pandemic. This included online, paper-based (via mail) and virtual tuition. Data has therefore not been collected to report against this measure in Quarter 4 of 2019–20.

At the most recent round of assessments in Quarter 3 of 2019–20, of the 45,831 enrolments between 1 July 2019 and 31 March 2020, 16,231 had had at least one progressive assessment. Of these, 96.2 per cent achieved one or more levels of improvement under the ACSF. This represents a 1.0 per cent increase on the figures for the same period in 2018–19.

Providers continued to deliver English language tuition to eligible migrants during Quarter 4. The English language tuition provided to eligible migrants is essential to their economic and social integration in Australia.

A recent evaluation of the AMEP identified the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) as a key challenge for providers, as it has resulted in a duplication of assessments and increased administration. The Department will be implementing an interim method for measuring English language progression in 2020–21. This will involve using curriculum assessments as interim progressive assessments. This will help to alleviate the administrative burden on providers. Results will be reported by AMEP service providers at least quarterly, through a mapping process to the ACSF.


Refugee and humanitarian programs reflect Government priorities and international protection obligations through providing settlement support whilst contributing to global resettlement.


RESULTS The Humanitarian Program is delivered within the planning ceiling and consistent with priorities set by the Government #

This metric was not met.

Consistent with other Government decisions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the granting of all Class XB (offshore) Humanitarian visas was suspended on 19 March 2020. This has meant that the 2019–20 Humanitarian Program of 18,750 places was not fully delivered.

In 2019–20, the Department delivered 13,171 humanitarian program places out of the total 18,750 for the 2019–20 reporting year. This represents a 29.8 per cent decrease on 18,762 places delivered for 2018–19. This comprised 11,521 visas delivered under the offshore component and 1,650 visas under the onshore component. The onshore component was fully delivered.

The Minister distributed the 2019–20 offshore humanitarian program into three broad elements:

  • Regional allocations – 73 per cent, for Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East
  • The Community Support Programme (CSP) – 6 per cent
  • Cohorts defined by their vulnerabilities – Vulnerable Women and Children (VWC), LGBTI (Pilot) and Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs with no ties to Australia) (Pilot) – 21 per cent

At 30 June 2020, the offshore component comprised:

  • 8678 visas granted against the regionally allocated places
  • 417 visas granted under the CSP
  • 2345 visas granted against the Vulnerable Women and Children category
  • 70 visas granted against the two pilots
  • 11 visas granted by Canberra staff due to COVID-19 restrictions
  • 44.7 per cent of humanitarian entrants granted visas have been referred to regional locations (outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (includes Logan[1]) for settlement. Improved Illegal Maritime Arrival legacy caseload application processing ^

This metric was met.

During 2019–20, of the Illegal Maritime Arrival (IMA) Legacy caseload of 32,514 persons, 3308 cases were finalised, in comparison to the 4420 finalised during 2018–19. At 30 June 2020, a total of 28,299 cases have been decided or otherwise resolved, representing 87 per cent of the caseload now resolved.

Following the Minister’s decision requiring all persons within the IMA Legacy Caseload to have made their initial application for a Temporary Protection or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa prior to 1 October 2017, the Department has been progressing the finalisation of the caseload. During 2019–20, approximately 10 per cent of the caseload or 3308 cases were finalised.

The Department is on track to have resolved the majority of the remaining IMA Legacy Caseload by June 2021, subject to current and future processing impacts resulting from COVID-19 which is currently affecting the scheduling of applicant interviews.

It is expected that a number of the remaining applications are likely to be IMAs with complex national security, character or identity concerns, or other case complexities. A qualitative assessment demonstrates continuous improvement in settlement support services to assist recently-arrived humanitarian entrants and other vulnerable migrants to fully participate in the Australian community *

This metric was partially met.

Humanitarian Settlement Program

At the completion of the 2019–20 program year, the majority of Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) clients, 15 years and over who exited the program during 2019–20, were assessed to have the skills to manage their lives and use services independently in Australia. This ranged from 81 per cent to 90 per cent across the nine HSP outcomes, in comparison to 69 per cent and 78 per cent across the same outcomes during 2018–19.

254 HSP Desktop Reviews were completed in 2019–20, a 30 per cent reduction on the 362 undertaken throughout 2018–19. The reduction can be attributed to the Machinery of Government changes, a new Assurance and Compliance Strategy, and changing work priorities to support the Department’s response to COVID-19.

Following the Machinery of Government changes, the Department consolidated contract management activities from state and territory offices to the national office with the transition complete in November 2019. Throughout the transition phase, priority focused on developing the HSP Assurance and Compliance Strategy to establish a systematic system to support effective program risk management and continuous improvement from 2020. In the second and third quarters, the focus was on upskilling staff, and preparing for and conducting desktop reviews. From Quarter 4, contract compliance activities were put on hold while the Department prioritised activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This also allowed providers to focus on their service delivery response for clients.

Analysis shows that case files are generally satisfactory and provide evidence of service delivery to clients. However, there are a range of areas requiring improvement. For example, many clients’ Case Management Plans are not suitably tailored to the individual and evidence for client attainment of ‘application-level’ outcomes is also lacking. Due to a change in business as usual functions during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest feedback and follow-up in relation to these issues with Service Providers occurred in January and February 2020. Improvements are not expected to become visible until Quarter 1 2020–2021.

Australian Cultural Orientation Program

The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program provides participants with practical advice about the journey to Australia and assists in ensuring a successful start to the clients’ settlement post arrival.

87.75 per cent of invited clients participated in all AUSCO course sessions for the period 2019–20 against a target of 90 per cent, a small reduction in comparison to the 89.48 per cent of invited clients who attended all AUSCO course sessions throughout 2018–19. The reduction was due to the interruption of delivery of AUSCO classes from mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some clients cannot attend AUSCO classes due to short departure timeframes, employment obligations in their originating country or health issues. However, the high level of engagement and positive feedback from participants indicates that the program is a valued source of pre-departure information for humanitarian entrants.

Settlement Engagement and Transition Support

During 2019–20, 78.9 per cent of clients receiving Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) demonstrated positive progress in achieving individual goals, against a target of 90 per cent. This was a small 3 per cent decrease from the previous reporting period of January to June 2019.

The target of 90 per cent was based on the former Settlement Grants Program. It is likely that the changes between the programs and the heightened focus on English, employment and education under SETS means that positive outcomes are more difficult to achieve.

1 Includes Gold Coast for reporting purposes (Gold Coast is classified as regional, however due to HSP System reporting limitations separate referrals data for Gold Coast is not currently available).


Effective regional processing and settlement support, contributes to international migration.


RESULTS Qualitative assessment demonstrates a positive impact in supporting regional processing countries to identify durable migration pathways for transferees ^

This metric was met.

As at 30 June 2020, the regional processing population in Nauru and PNG was 373, down from 814 in 2018–19 which is a 54 per cent reduction in population.

The COVID-19 State of Emergency’s in PNG and Nauru, combined with travel restrictions, has challenged service providers, however continuity of service delivery has been effectively maintained.

In 2019–20, 239 refugees were resettled in the US, in comparison to 254 in 2018–19. This brings the total number resettled to 785 at 30 June 2020.

Ongoing engagement with US officials continues to identify opportunities to effect further departures from Nauru, PNG and Australia, with further departures scheduled during Quarter 1 2020–21.

Regional processing service delivery contracts in both Nauru and PNG have been extended by deed of variation to 31 December 2020. Securing these extensions has enabled the Department to continue with transition efforts in PNG to support our exit from regional processing arrangements by 31 December 2020, and to continue ongoing planning for the implementation of an enduring regional processing capability in Nauru by 30 June 2021. A sample of qualitative assessments demonstrates a positive impact of engagement with partner governments in improving migration #

This metric was partially met.

A number of projects and engagements were delayed or cancelled in 2019–20 due to the impacts of COVID-19, however the Department continues to strengthen relationships with partner governments to improve migration, border management and national security outcomes.

In 2019–20, the Department funded COVID-19 prevention and response programs administered by international health care organisations and government agencies, which helped to ensure program goals could be achieved where possible.

Examples of the Department’s key activities in 2019–20 include:

Papua New Guinea

The Department signed a new funding arrangement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in PNG. This funding support will allow the IOM to assist PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority to provide Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) activities and migrant care services in PNG. It also allows IOM to work on a range of other activities in PNG, including the regional processing arrangements and refugee resettlement to the United States.

Sri Lanka

The Department entered into a funding agreement for the second phase of the Sri Lanka Reintegration to Sustain Unemployed Maritime Emigrants Project (RESUME II) project in Sri Lanka. RESUME II aims to develop social and economic capital in communities vulnerable to irregular migration, with a view to strengthen factors encouraging the community to remain in Sri Lanka. The Department, under the International Capacity Building Program, also supported and funded delivery of the third Bali Process Technical Experts Group on Returns and Reintegration (TEGRR) meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The February 2020 TEGRR engaged a broad cross section of Bali Process Member States to develop a shared understanding of global and regional trends on returns and reintegration. There was useful dialogue from member states on their interests and priorities, as well as sharing of current returns and reintegration practices.

COVID-19 Response (Indonesia, Mekong and Middle East)

The Department provided funding to the IOM in Indonesia to provide ventilators, medical equipment and temporary hospital infrastructure to help cope with an influx of COVID-19 patients as well as a preventative health support and an education campaign for refugee and asylum seekers in Indonesia.

The Department also allocated funds to assist in the application of the UN Global Humanitarian response plan for COVID-19 in the Mekong region, including equipment and training to Myanmar border agencies and through the joint response plan for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

In the Middle East, funding was provided to Care Jordan and Care Iraq to address COVID-19 responses in refugee and asylum camps in the region. This funding included training, public health messaging and personal protective equipment.


Support social cohesion and drive the effective delivery of citizenship and multicultural programs


Community engagement and effective multicultural and citizenship programs support and enhance social cohesion


RESULTS High social cohesion is reported from the results of national surveys by the Scanlon Foundation ‘Mapping Social Cohesion’ and the annual Lowy Institute Poll #

This metric was met.

High social cohesion is reported from the results of national surveys undertaken in 2019 by the Scanlon Foundation ‘Mapping Social Cohesion’ and the annual Lowy Institute Poll.

The Scanlon-Monash Index is an annual measure of social cohesion in Australia. The index score for 2019 was 89.6, consistent with the 2018 score of 89.7. The proportion of those surveyed who indicated that the number of immigrants accepted into Australia was too high fell to 41 per cent, a decrease of two per cent from 2018.

The 2020 Lowy Institute Poll published in June 2020, did not include any survey questions directly related to social cohesion or immigration trends, but found that 93 per cent of Australians thought Australia has handled the COVID-19 outbreak very or fairly well so far, and that Australia has tended to avoid trends of protectionist and anti-globalisation sentiment. The Department implements policy and legislative reforms in line with Government priorities *

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, the Department continued to deliver policy and legislative reforms enabling effective delivery of multicultural and citizenship programs that support and enhance social cohesion nationally.

Examples of the Department’s key activities in 2019–20:

  • Citizenship ceremonies were delivered online from 31 March 2020, in response to COVID-19-related restrictions precluding traditional in-person ceremonies, so approved applicants could continue to acquire Australian citizenship during the pandemic. From 31 March to 30 June 2020, more than 45,000 people acquired Australian citizenship through online ceremonies.
  • The Department implemented the $71 million package of social cohesion initiatives. This included implementation of the new youth Hubs Pilot to support the integration of young humanitarian entrants and migrants aged 12 to 21, administration of the Fostering Integration Grants Program to help local community organisations assist migrants to integrate into life in Australia, and administration of the Community Languages Schools Multicultural Grants Program to help young Australians learn another language and connect young Australians to the languages and cultures of their community.
  • Through the COVID-19 In your language website, the Department provided Government information on COVID-19 in 63 languages to protect the health of all members of the community and strengthen social cohesion in multicultural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Department provided the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee with a submission as part of the Committee’s inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy. The submission outlines the role of the Department in fostering and securing Australia’s diverse and socially cohesive society. Social cohesion is promoted through the targeted delivery of an annual program of training to counter violent extremism, building awareness and capability in key stakeholders *

This metric was partially met.

In 2019–20, the Department’s Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) program allocated annual funding to support state and territories’ CVE capabilities, including CVE interventions.

In 2019–20, five out of seven training activities were delivered, compared to the four out of four delivered in 2018–19.

Examples of the Department’s key activities in 2019–20:

  • Work related to the VERA-2R violent extremist risk assessments was progressed, including establishing expert users’ community of practice and delivering training to jurisdictional law enforcement and correctional professionals. 100 per cent of the VERA-2R training exercises scheduled in Quarter 1 to Quarter 3 were delivered. The two training activities scheduled for Quarter 4 were postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The Department developed and delivered analytical reports to share information and inform a cross-section of policy, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism practitioners about emerging issues and trends in the Australian online extremism environment.
  • The Department delivered a series of webinars on mental health awareness, terrorism and grievance-fuelled violence, to share information, raise awareness and provide guidance to mental health and medical practitioners.
  • Two modules of CommUNITY were launched and delivered. CommUNITY is a network building and social media training program for ethnic and religious communities to address hate and online extremism.
  • The online event DIGI Engage 2020 was delivered in partnership with digital industry to raise awareness of the dangers of online extremism and empower young people to speak up against it. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, the two day event was redesigned to be delivered entirely online through a series of webinars, live streaming sessions and through the use of other digital systems. Number of pieces of illicit content identified and referred to digital industry platforms for removal *

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, the Department referred 593 pieces of terrorist or violent extremist content to digital industry platforms for removal.

In addition, the Department referred 144 instances of COVID-19 malign information to digital platforms where the Department assessed it may breach a platform’s own Terms of Service, constituting misinformation, disinformation or a scam. 96 of the 144 instances were removed or otherwise acted upon.2

Material referred to digital platforms by the Department varies depending upon the hosting platform content referral processes, the volume and frequency of uploads to platforms observed by the Department, and departmental resourcing. Volume will also depend on the capability of digital platforms to block the initial upload of new material or the re-upload of previously identified material using internal systems. Improved multicultural community engagement and integration ^

This metric was met.

During 2019–20, the Department completed 6637 engagements with community organisations and leaders, compared with 1546 engagements during 2018–19. This represents an increase of 329 per cent.

Examples of the Department’s key activities in 201920:

  • The Department took steps to ensure that the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was communicated to, and understood by, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Through its Community Liaison Officers (CLO), the Department disseminated critical public health messages, anti-racism messaging and information related to social distancing, financial assistance, and travel restrictions, including in a number of community languages other than English.
  • Through their networks, the members of the Australian Multicultural Council promoted key messaging detailing the Australian Government’s COVID-19 measures, including anti-racism messaging from Government. The AMC also provided valuable feedback from the community to inform responses to the impact of COVID-19.
  • In response to the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires numerous CALD community organisations across Australia rallied together to support bushfire-affected communities, including through the delivery of free meals to emergency services personnel, donations of essential goods to bushfire-affected communities, and donating proceeds of fundraising events to state and territory fire services and the Australian Red Cross. The CLO Network informed Emergency Management Australia of offers from CALD communities willing to assist in the distribution of relief and recovery messages. Improved citizenship applications processing *

This metric was met.

In 2019–20, the Department continued to deliver improved citizenship application processing. The Department finalised 228,323 citizenship by conferral applications, a 43 per cent increase compared to 2018–19 (160,117 finalisations).

Number of Australian citizenship by conferral applications lodged, by lodgement channel and financial year:3

In 2019-20, 147,001 conferrals were lodged of which:

  • 122,275 were lodged electronically (83% of total lodgement)
  • 24,726 were lodged by paper.

In 2018-19, 138,387 conferrals were lodged of which:

  • 106,304 were lodged electronically (77% of total lodgement)
  • 32,083 were lodged by paper.

In 2019–20, 83 per cent of applications for citizenship conferral were lodged online, compared to 77 per cent for the 2018–19 program year. This is a 6 per cent point increase in online lodgements for citizenship by conferral applications.

Complaints received in 2019–20:

In 2019–20, the Department received 1466 complaints from a total of 304,937 conferral applications on hand. This equated to a rate of 0.005 complaints per application.

Of the complaints received by the Department in 2019–20, the most frequently raised topic related to application processing times (73 per cent), followed by time awaiting conferral (15 per cent) and client service (3 per cent).

While the total number of complaints decreased quarter on quarter during 2019–20, the reduction in the on-hand caseload has resulted in a consistent ratio of complaints per application.

The Department continues to work on client service delivery to address some of these complaints, where appropriate. Maintaining or increasing the pass rate of the Australian citizenship test demonstrates collective understanding of the value of Australian citizenship *

This metric was partially met.

In 2019–20, 98 per cent of applicants who sat the citizenship test passed. This is consistent with the pass rate in 2018–19.

In 2019–20, the average number of test attempts per applicant was 1.2. This is a slight increase from 1.1 in 2018–19.

The Department provides applicants with the citizenship test resource booklet (Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond) which is translated into a range of languages. This resource booklet contains all of the information an applicant requires to be able to pass the test.

Failure of an applicant to pass the test after successive attempts may be due to a combination of factors. Reasons for failure may include:

  • the applicant being illiterate in their first language
  • the applicant not studying the resource booklet
  • the applicant not having a basic knowledge of English
  • the applicant not being competent with the test software
  • the resource booklet not being fit-for-purpose.

On average, less than 1 per cent of applications for citizenship by conferral are refused on the basis of failing the citizenship test, with very few applicants appealing the outcome through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Citizenship Program continues to monitor the test pass/fail rates to determine whether there is a need to review the content of the test material to ensure it remains appropriate and fit-for-purpose, and demonstrates the collective understanding of the value of Australian citizenship.

2 Actions could include but are not limited to: removal of content, suspension of accounts, prevention of further engagement and spread.

3 This includes counts of children under 16 years of age who were included on a responsible parent's application form.