More than 500 Afghans whose safety was jeopardised by their support of Australia's military mission in Afghanistan have been granted refugee visas under a discreet immigration program.
The Afghan nationals, mainly interpreters, were assessed as being at risk of insurgent attacks in the war-ravaged country because of their involvement with diggers and Australian government agencies.
The federal government resettled around 500 of them, including their families, in late 2013 and early 2014 under the humanitarian settlement services program.
Defence Minister David Johnston, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews released a statement on Sunday revealing the covert program.
The government until now has been reluctant to expose details of the program because of the risk involved in exposing the refugees, the joint statement said.
Australia ended combat operations in Afghanistan and withdrew about 1000 troops in 2013 but still has about 400 troops performing advisory and training jobs.