Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS)

The Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program provides early practical support to humanitarian entrants on arrival, and throughout their initial settlement period, generally for the first six to 12 months.

Service providers deliver the HSS program on behalf of the Australian Government. HSS case managers help humanitarian entrants to access other services or programs if needed. Participation in the HSS program is voluntary and support is provided on a needs basis, which means that not all humanitarian entrants will require all available services.

The objectives of the HSS program are to provide humanitarian entrants with:

  • tailored support to begin a new life in Australia
  • an opportunity to strengthen their ability to fully participate in the economic and social life of Australia
  • skills and knowledge to independently access services beyond the HSS program
  • services in accordance with the program's principles.

One example of successful settlement through the HSS program is women and their dependents who have been arriving in Australia on the Woman at Risk Visa (subclass 204) since 1989. Getting Settled – women refugees in Australia contains information and a range of good practice ideas that have been shown to be effective in the successful settlement of women and their families.


Clients holding the following visas are eligible for HSS:

  • Refugee category (subclass 200, 201, 203 and 204) visas
  • Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa.

From 30 August 2013, two groups of asylum seekers who are granted Protection visas are no longer eligible for services under the HSS program.These groups are:

  • Illegal Maritime Arrivals who have been granted a Protection visa while living in the community on a Bridging visa E or in community detention
  • people who were not Illegal Maritime Arrivals, but have similarly been granted protection while living in the community, including in community detention (‘community grants’).

This does not apply to unaccompanied humanitarian minors and most people granted a Protection visa while living in an immigration detention centre or facility.

People affected by the change, as well as those eligible for HSS, can access services from a number of other settlement programs. These include:

HSS service delivery principles

HSS service providers are guided by and promote the following principles:

  • respect the human worth and dignity of clients and their cultural and religious diversity
  • protect the health and wellbeing of clients
  • ensure clients are involved in decisions that affect them and have influence over their settlement pathways
  • deliver services flexibly through a tailored case management approach which prioritises need and early intervention strategies
  • give particular attention to the needs of children and young people
  • ensure services build on individual strengths and promote capability and independence
  • work together with other community and government agencies in the best interests of the client
  • deliver services to a high standard
  • be accountable to the users of services and the Australian Government.

Services provided under the HSS program

The HSS program is delivered by service providers in 23 regions across Australia on behalf of the Australian Government.

HSS providers work with clients to identify their needs and develop a case management plan to deliver a tailored package of services to meet these needs, including:

  • meeting clients at the airport
  • help with transport to their initial accommodation
  • assistance with finding suitable longer-term accommodation
  • property induction
  • providing an initial food package and start-up pack of household goods
  • assistance to register with Centrelink, Medicare, health services, banks, schools and an Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) provider
  • orientation to life in Australia, including health, education, employment and Australian laws and culture.

Services are provided to clients based on their needs, therefore not all clients will require or receive all services available under the HSS program. Clients may have other needs that are not met by the HSS program. These may be met by other settlement programs or by general services available to the broader Australian community. Clients are able to access more than one settlement service simultaneously, as long as there is no duplication of service.

HSS providers also work with other settlement and mainstream services to assist clients with their settlement needs beyond the HSS period, including community and recreational programs.

Completion of services

Exit from the HSS program is based on clients achieving clearly defined settlement outcomes. These include:

  • residing in long-term accommodation (generally a lease of at least six months in length)
  • links to the required services identified in their case management plan
  • school age children are enrolled and attending school
  • ensuring clients have understood the messages delivered through orientation and have the skills and knowledge to independently access services.

These settlement outcomes will generally be reached between six to 12 months of the client's arrival.

Australian Privacy Principles (APP) 5 Privacy Notice – Humanitarian Settlement Services

The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) requires the Department of Social Services to notify an individual of certain matters when it collects and discloses personal information about them.

To support your settlement in Australia, the Department of Social Services (DSS) collects personal information (including sensitive information) about you and your family members. DSS collects this information from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and from Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) providers who are contracted by DSS to provide you with settlement support. Personal information is collected before and after arrival in Australia.

The purpose of collecting this information is to provide with the support needed to settle in Australia.

Your personal information may also be disclosed to officials of State, Territory and local governments to assist with settlement planning for state, territory and local government services, including health services, schools, family and community services, and contracted providers of these services.

For specific queries concerning the collection and disclosure of your personal information please contact the DSS enquiries regarding the collection and disclosure of personal information contact the DSS Feedback (Email:; Post: DSS Feedback, GPO Box 9820, Canberra, ACT, 2600)

For general enquiries and requests to access or correct personal information please refer to the DSS privacy policy at

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