Each year, the Australian Government seeks public input into the management and composition of Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian Program. This year's consultation takes place in a context of unprecedented numbers of displaced peoples globally. Against this backdrop, the Society urges the Australian Government to abandon policies and practices that undermine refugee and asylum seeker protections.

In our submission to the Government's Discussion Paper on Australia's Humanitarian Program 2017-18, we call for an increase to the size of Australia's Humanitarian Program. We believe increasing the size of the program to 30,000 places by 2020 is a modest but achievable objective that is proportionate to our prosperity and population, and in line with contemporary realities regarding the numbers of displaced persons globally. Refugee resettlement should be offered on the basis of protection need, with an additional emergency component to respond to crises. We also call on the Government to delink onshore and offshore humanitarian streams; strengthen regional cooperation; ensure settlement services are properly resourced and accessible on the basis of need; and expand family reunion pathways

We also express concerns about the 1000 places allocated to the Community Support Program, which the Government has included as part of the humanitarian intake quota. While the Society supports measures to expand Australia's intake of refugees, we firmly believe that private sponsorship should be an addition, not alternative, to existing refugee places provided by the Government. Nor should private sponsorship schemes be used as a cost-saving measure that effectively privatises the humanitarian program and imposes exorbitant costs on individuals or community organisations.

Finally, we condemn unjust and inhumane policies that continue to have devastating effects on asylum seekers and refugees who arrive by boat in Australia, and those who remain stranded in the region due to the policies of deterrence and offshore detention. Such policies erode the hope, dignity and safety of people forcibly displaced. We call for an end to the offshore processing of refugees, the abolition of the boat turn-back policy, the lifting of the bar on resettling refugees living in Indonesia, and the reinstatement of a fair refugee status determination process for asylum seekers who arrived by boat in Australia.