Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

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Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
Department overview
Formed 26 November 2001[1]
Preceding Department
Dissolved 27 January 2006[1]
Superseding agency
Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Australia
Headquarters Canberra
Employees 5,398 (at 30 June 2004)[2]
Ministers responsible
Department executives

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Indigenous Affairs (also called DIMIA) was an Australian government department that existed between November 2001 and January 2006.


Information about the department's functions and/or government funding allocation could be found in the Administrative Arrangements Orders, the annual Portfolio Budget Statements, in the Department's annual reports and on the Department's website.

According to the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) made on 26 November 2001, the Department dealt with:[3]

  • Entry, stay and departure arrangements for non-citizens
  • Border immigration control
  • Arrangements for settlement of migrants and humanitarian entrants, other than migrant child education
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic affairs
  • Multicultural affairs
  • Indigenous affairs and reconciliation


In 2004-05 the Department was responsible for the unlawful 10-month detention of Cornelia Rau, a German citizen and Australian permanent resident as part of the Australian Government's mandatory detention program. Rau's detention became the subject of a government inquiry which was later expanded to investigate over 200 other cases of suspected unlawful detention by DIMIA.[4]

The Department also ran the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, an Australian immigration detention facility near the village of Woomera in South Australia through contract with Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), a subsidiary of Wackenhut Security Corporation. ACM was criticised over various practices, including failing to staff the Centre adequately, and concealing evidence of child abuse. The detention centre was the site of riots, hunger strikes, and lip-sewing, which included children.[5]


The Department was an Australian Public Service department, staffed by officials who were responsible to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock (until 2003) and then Amanda Vanstone.[1] The Secretary of the Department at its creation was Bill Farmer.[1][6] Farmer was replaced by Andrew Metcalfe in July 2005, after publicly stating that the Department would benefit from vigorous organisational review and major cultural change, led by a new Secretary.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d CA 8872: Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Central Office, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 15 December 2013 
  2. ^ Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2004, p. 283.
  3. ^ Administrative Arrangements Order issued 26 November 2001 (PDF), National Archives of Australia, 26 November 2001, archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2013 
  4. ^ Palmer Report: Two Years of Progress, Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
  5. ^ Whitmont, Debbie (19 May 2003), "...About Woomera", Four Corners, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, archived from the original on 9 March 2012 
  6. ^ a b Howard, John (10 July 2005). "New Senior Appointments" (Press release). Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. 

References and further reading[edit]