Refugee Legal is Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of free legal services in its specialist field of immigration and refugee law.

  • Total client assistance:
  • Telephone advice:
  • Face-to-face advice:
  • People represented:
  • Fast track advice & assistance
  • 14,285
  • 5,411
  • 2,308
  • 2,651
  • 3,915
  • Iran
  • Sri Lanka
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Burma
  • Iraq
  • Ethipioa
  • India
  • Somalia
  • Malaysia

Where our work makes its impact

Changing lives

The lives of thousands of people were changed over the past 12 months by our staff and volunteers doing what they do best — providing expert legal help. The upshot: so many people have been granted protection, freed from detention, reunited with family, or have had their residency restored.

Emergency response

With Gandel Philanthropy and then the Sidney Myer Fund matching donations dollar for dollar, we engaged in a major scale-up of resources to run more special TPV clinics to help many more people to apply for protection visas before the deadline. This meant no one in need was turned away. The Saturday Paper, Studio Round and two of our Ambassadors, First Dog on the Moon and Tom Ballard, among others, provided crucial support for our urgent fundraising campaigns.

Innovative partnerships

Over a dozen corporate law firms so far have joined with us to provide free emergency legal assistance to thousands of people seeking asylum under the Fast Track process to ensure they get a fair go before the law. This innovative collaboration — connecting and harnessing legal expertise — has been recognised by the London Financial Times Legal Innovation Awards and the Law
Institute of Victoria Awards.

A leading voice

Executive Director David Manne presented at high-level fora, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Protection Challenges Dialogue in Geneva, while being a regular contributor to national and international media coverage of issues affecting refugees and migrants. We also played a central role in advocating for change in public, policymaking and political arenas, including
numerous Senate Inquiry submissions.

Strategic litigation

Refugee Legal, in partnership with other leading legal advocates, has again had success in the High Court in ensuring refugees’ rights are recognised, including taking action to prevent a number of people from being returned to Nauru or Manus. Most recently, one of our clients was released from indefinite detention after more than four years. We now have achieved successes for clients in ten out of ten High Court challenges.

The real stories behind the numbers


In 2009, Fatema*, then aged 13,  applied with her siblings, her mother and stepmother, for visas to join her father in Australia.  They are Hazara Shias who had been forced to flee from Afghanistan to Pakistan to avoid persecution by the Taliban.  Fatema’s father had originally arrived in Australia by boat and had been granted a permanent protection visa.  There were long delays in processing the family’s visa applications and, after two years, Refugee Legal was asked by the migration agent who had been representing the family to take over the case as it had become too complicated.  Eventually all the family, bar Fatema and her mother, were granted visas to Australia.  The Department did not believe that Fatema was her father’s child.  DNA testing proved that Fatema was her father’s child but, by this time, Ministerial policy required that visa applications proposed by people  who had originally arrived by boat be treated as lowest priority no matter how compelling the cases.

We assisted Fatema’s father to apply for Australian citizenship, which was granted.  This meant that processing of his daughter’s application recommenced.   Unfortunately, Fatema’s mother was then diagnosed with a life threatening illness, which meant that she no longer satisfied the health requirements for the visa.  We prepared further information and submissions in support of both Fatema and her mother, given the fact that they had been living in a situation of extreme danger as two females on their own, without male protection, for many years and that this danger would only increase as Fatema reached her late teens.

Both Fatema and her mother were granted visas and were finally able to reunite with their family in Australia late last year.

*Names have been changed.