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Australians stranded overseas have been offered hope of returning this year to quarantine in homes.
Scott Morrison has indicated 80 per cent full vaccination coverage in Australia would open the door for citizens and permanent residents blocked by border closures.
The prime minister used a pre-recorded video message to acknowledge stranded Australians' frustration with the situation.
"We are looking forward to welcoming many people back home soon. We can get there this year," he told an awards ceremony for high-achieving Australians working overseas.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman told AAP around 44,600 people were registered as wanting to return.
About 5100 are considered vulnerable.
"This number changes regularly according to people's circumstances," the DFAT spokesman said.
Since the start of the pandemic 26,000 Australians have returned on 174 government-facilitated flights.
Home quarantine is expected to become the norm as vaccination rates increase at home and abroad.
A 50-person trial in South Australia is using facial recognition and location technology to ensure people are at home during three random checks each day.
Mr Morrison has declared home isolation is the way forward when Australia hits an over-16 vaccination coverage target of 80 per cent.
"I know for Australians overseas it has been a very difficult and frustrating time," the prime minister said.
"It's tough living through a pandemic and being separated from your family and that's brought its own heartbreak, life's moments missed that you will never get back."
But Labor leader Anthony Albanese argues the prime minister made commitments in the lead up to last Christmas to clear a backlog of people registered to return home.
"It's now September 2021 and he's now saying you'll be home some time in the future," Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state would be keen to see international travel resume when it reaches 80 per cent double-dose coverage.
Australia is preparing to roll out vaccine passports from October to pave the way for international travel to resume.
The opposition leader said there was nothing new in countries requiring immunisation against other infectious diseases.
"This will be a fact of life for people to undertake activities such as international travel," Mr Albanese said.