Australia is one of UNHCR’s longest-standing partners and donors. Australia’s contributions allow UNHCR to respond in areas where the needs are greatest and to maintain critical support 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 the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees into force. From 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. Over the past decade, Australia has also been among the largest refugee settlement countries globally, providing critical opportunities for refugees in some of the most difficult situations.
As a major donor of unearmarked funding, Australia’s contributions are critical to the type of flexible response that enables UNHCR to quickly and efficiently 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 programs as comprehensively as possible.
For example, Australia’s multi-year funding for the Myanmar situation has been particularly critical in facilitating UNHCR’s protection and assistance to the Rohingya refugees.
Moreover, Australia is one of the largest donors for UNHCR's activities in the Asia-Pacific region, providing significant support for gender-based violence prevention and response, gender equality, and disability inclusion. It also supports the meaningful participation of refugees and host communities in decisions that affect their lives, with the aim of improving the relevance, quality, transparency, and accountability of assistance.