Refugee FAQs

Refugees are regular people who, through no fault of their own, have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety. People often have little or no warning before they are forced from their homes due to war or persecution, and many refugees have to undertake dangerous journeys to reach safety.

They must leave behind their family, friends and most or all of their belongings, and they cannot return unless the situation that forced them to leave improves. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Australia is a signatory, defines a refugee as: "Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country."

This definition is used by the Australian Government to determine whether our country has protection obligations towards an individual. If a person is found to be a refugee, Australia is obliged under international law to offer protection and support and to ensure that they are not sent back unwillingly to the country of origin. (RCOA)

Success stories

Refugee turned citizen feels privileged to have a say

Paz Roman smiling to camera.At 17, Paz Roman was nominated as Young Australian of the Year, mostly for her volunteer work. Ironically, she wasn’t an Australian. She came here from Chile as a refugee with her family when she was just a baby, and despite living in Australia since then, she struggled with the idea of becoming a citizen.  

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