The African community makes up a significant part of the new arrivals in the Territory, although their numbers in the NT are small in comparison with other states. For example, there were 126 refugees in 2003-2004 compared to 3,235 in NSW and 3,199 in Victoria (Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMA), 2004). In January 2004 DIMA announced that it would be settling more refugees in regional Australia, including the Territory.
The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs’ (DIMA) offshore humanitarian settlement program for refugees in the Territory has consisted almost entirely of entrants from Africa since 2000. The majority of members of the African community in Darwin have arrived under the humanitarian program. On average 50 to 100 African refugee families have arrived annually in the Territory since 2001. This number of new arrivals will have a profound impact on the community as a whole, and specifically on the support systems and community services, including schools, training, housing, and health services. This new African refugee community presents very specific and unique issues that service providers and government agencies attempt to address. Apart from their different cultural backgrounds, some also bring with them experiences of personal trauma and many years of hardship in refugee camps.