22 flown home from Australia under voluntary scheme

Twenty-two Irish people have been flown home from Australia under a voluntary repatriation scheme in the past two years, according to Australian authorities.

Figures from the Australian Department of Agriculture shows that, since July 1, 2010, 22 Irish nationals have used the assisted voluntary returns (AVR) programme which can include additional costs such as the bus fare to the airport.

The figure represents 10% of the overall figure of Irish nationals expelled from Australia since the start of 2010, which stands at 224 to the end of June this year.

The majority of those were asked to leave because of failures to follow visa requirements and being in the country illegally.

Despite the increase in the number of people emigrating to Australia to escape the recession — along with warnings last March from police in Perth that some Irish nationals face deportation unless they reduce the level of antisocial behaviour — the number of Irish being removed from Australia has decreased.

Two years ago, 111 Irish nationals were deported from Australia but, last year, the comparable figure was 79. To the end of June this year, 34 people had been deported.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Australia, which operates the assisted voluntary returns programme, said it was in place to assist bridging visa E holders who wish to leave Australia but who require assistance to do so.

“This assistance can include airfares and a small amount of post-return assistance if required, for example, assistance with bus fares from the airport to their place of residence,” the spokesperson said.

“Before financial assistance and post-return support are provided, the client must demonstrate that they are unable to fund their return trip; are seeking to leave Australia; and are doing so voluntarily.”

Ireland is also part of a voluntary return scheme, called the EU12 Repatriation Function which is operated here by the Reception and Integration Agency.

In recent years, it has returned thousands of people to various countries under the EU12 scheme, with many returning to Romania, Poland and other central and eastern European countries.


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