Almost 28 per cent of Australia’s population is born overseas. Since the 1970s Australia’s migration programs have been based on a universal, non-discriminatory visa system. Provided an individual meets the criteria to lodge a valid application, they can apply for a visa, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, ethnicity or religious belief.
The Migration Act 1958, Migration Regulations 1994 and Ministerial Instruments provide the legislative framework for Australia’s permanent Migration Program (migration program). The migration program is administered by the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs or the department). Family program visas are processed in four Visa and Citizenship Offices located in Australia and 25 Australian overseas missions.
Effective management of the migration program supports achievement of the economic and social objectives of the government’s migration policy. This audit provides assurance to the Parliament on the effectiveness of Home Affairs’ management of the family program.
- Home Affairs’ arrangements for the design and delivery of the Family Migration Program are largely effective. Planning for the delivery of the program provides a suitable basis for meeting government objectives. There are shortcomings in implementation which impact on the department’s effectiveness and efficiency in delivering visa services. Aspects of policy and governance require further development and documenting to ensure performance in visa processing operations is appropriately monitored and evaluated.
- Home Affairs provides largely effective policy advice to the government to support the design of the annual Family Migration Program, but consultation processes do not directly engage those affected by proposals. The department’s business and risk planning largely support delivery of the program to meet government objectives.
- While Home Affairs’ arrangements to enable the delivery of the Family Migration Program are appropriate, its implementation of these requires strengthening to ensure the consistent and timely provision of family visa services. The department lacks clear frameworks for measuring efficiency for the purposes of improving business outcomes and systematically managing aged applications.