Australia is one of UNHCR’s longest-standing partners and donors. Its contributions allow UNHCR to send resources to areas where the needs are greatest and to respond to major and underfunded emergencies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia was one of the 15 States selected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as member of the Advisory Committee on Refugees. Australia’s signature on 22 January 1954 brought into force the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Since the first major group of refugee arrivals in 1976, Australia has provided asylum and protection for people who fled war and persecution over four decades. According to the 2019 Global Trends Report, over the last ten years, 11 per cent of all resettled refugees were welcomed to Australia (114,500) with 18,200 refugees having been resettled in 2019 alone.
As a significant donor of unearmarked funding, Australia’s contributions are critical to the type of flexible response that enables UNHCR to direct resources to refugees and displaced people who are most in need, whether they are affected by a new crisis or in a protracted situation, enabling UNHCR to implement programmes as fully as possible. For instance, Australia’s multi-year funding for the Myanmar situation has been particularly significant in facilitating UNHCR’s protection and assistance to the Rohingya refugees. Furthermore, Australia is one of the largest donors for UNHCR’s activities in the Asia-Pacific region, providing significant support for gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, gender equality and disability inclusion.