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As refugees arrive in Australia, what will they get?

As refugees arrive in Australia, what will they get?

The first Syrian refugees have started to arrive in Australia, with thousands more to follow. But in terms of benefits and support, what do they receive?

By 2018, the number of refugees accepted into Australia is expected to reach 18,750, up from the total refugee intake of 14,350 in 2014.

While those fleeing from Syria will account for a majority of the increase – the number of Syrian refugees surpassed four million by July 2015 – while other war ravaged countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan are also seeking resettlement.

In order to be eligible for refugee status in Australia, applicants will have identity, health character and security checks before being given a humanitarial permanent residency visas.

Also read: New ideas to tackle Syria refugee crisis: Investing, not aid

And once they arrive, here is what they can expect:


Australia’s Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program gives support to refugees on arrival, and throughout their initial settlement period, including finding accommodation and sourcing basic household goods such as kitchen equipment linen.

Refugees are often located close to family members or if they don’t have a link to Australia, they are usually settled in regional locations that provide the best access to reasonable housing and employment prospects.

Most find low-cost accommodation in the private rental market, where they apply for properties on the same basis as other Australians – refugees must meet the same requirements as other Australians for public housing.

Financial support

According to the Department of Social Services, refugees immediately gain access to the income support available to an Australian permanent resident.

Effective August 2013, the maximum fortnightly rate for age pension, disability support pension and carer payment is $733.70 per person.

Also read: A new front in the war on ISIS: Cut off its cash

The maximum fortnightly rate for Newstart allowance and special benefit is $497 for a single person with no children.


With a permanent residency status, accepted refugees are eligible for Medicare and can receive public hospital services free of charge as public patients.

Education and learning

The HSS program also provides an onshore orientation program to assist clients understand Australian society, laws and culture.

Free English language courses are available to eligible migrants who do not have functional English with access to up to 510 hours of English language courses in their first five years of settlement in Australia.

Young refugees have the same access to schools and education as a permanent resident.

Also read: How ISIS is creating its own financial system


Accepted refugees are granted permanence residence visas which mean they are immediately eligible to work.

There is not currently an employment service dedicated to refugees.

Other assistance

The Crisis Payment is a one-off payment to helps those who have experienced difficult or extreme circumstances.

Refugees also have access to free interpreters to help with information about payments and services.