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La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Resettlement and social inclusion: youth with refugee backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia Celia McMichael Metropolis,

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Presentation on theme: "La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Resettlement and social inclusion: youth with refugee backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia Celia McMichael Metropolis,"— Presentation transcript:

1 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Resettlement and social inclusion: youth with refugee backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia Celia McMichael Metropolis, 2011

2 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Integration and humanitarian settlement  Globally, UNHCR estimates there are more than 36 million ‘people of concern’.  Eighteen countries formally participate in the UNHCR resettlement program (3 rd durable solution/1% solution).  Discourse of integration ascendant in (refugee) migration policy  Australia’s humanitarian program is currently experiencing many challenges: ‘integration potential’ of refugee settlers.  But should ‘integration potential’ inform selection of refugees and humanitarian entrants?

3 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Humanitarian Entrants to Australia Source: DIAC Settlement Database

4 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre METHODS  ‘Good Starts Study’: a longitudinal study of settlement and wellbeing among refugee youth ( )  This was the first longitudinal study with refugee youth in Australia, and one of very few internationally  Informed by anthropology and social epidemiology  Settlement journal: questionnaire, written response, photos, drawings, interviews  Recruitment through English Language Schools  120 participants: 55 female, 65 male; aged years; from 12 countries (in Africa, Middle East, South-east Asia) (Prof. Sandy Gifford and Dr Ignacio Correa-Velez)

5 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre The Indicators of Integration Framework (Ager and Strang 2004). Phillimore J, Goodson L Journal of Refugee Studies 2008;21:

6 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre What will my life be like in ten years?  In early arrival, young people with refugee backgrounds often have clear aspirations about how their lives might unfold: –‘I will go to university and I will be a doctor. I will not be married yet. I will buy a car and house... I want to know how to read perfect, want to help my own community, want to be married after finishing my studies, want to be a leader in my community.’ (Agol, Sudanese)

7 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre What are the key factors that impact on young peoples experiences of settlement and social integration/inclusion? Early pregnancy and parenting  Between 2004 and 2008, 11 of the participants became pregnant or had babies (9 female, 2 male).  In other words, 16% (9 out of 55) females (all Sudanese) had a pregnancy within the four year period of the study.  Raises questions about the social impact that young parenthood has on settlement and social integration/inclusion.

8 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Early parenting and education  Education a key determinant of success and social inclusion in a site of resettlement.  Early motherhood associated with high- school drop out.  For young people with refugee backgrounds who also experience teen pregnancy, the barriers to completion of secondary school and further education are substantial.  All young people withdrew from school.

9 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Case study 1: Mangwak  Mangwak fled Sudan with her family and lived in refugee camps in Kenya for several years. She had two years of schooling prior to arrival in Australia. During her first year of arrival she attended school, and wrote in her journal: “I like this school very much. I feel very happy everyday. I love this school and teachers.” Mangwak planned to finish secondary school and get a university education. But in her second year of arrival, aged eighteen, she became pregnant and dropped out of school. She lives with her brother and sister and baby and hopes to look for a job in the future.

10 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Early parenting and housing  Finding secure housing a primary concern  Young mothers experience difficulties in accessing suitable accommodation, inadequacies in both supply and standard: We can’t fit in the house, with all the kids... I come back to my family, and they look after me. And then I decided I have to go look for house. Yeah, but renting from this house to other house to other house (Aciek, Sudanese)

11 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Early parenting and social support  Need for family support: news of pregnancy (initially) leads to disagreement and conflict; yet many draw on family networks for assistance.  Family networks not available to all (family separation etc)  Key transition associated with motherhood involve increased social isolation, more time in home. The hardest thing that I know being a mum is to always keep by yourself. I think it is the hardest thing. You need help yourself, I don’t know there’s so much to do. It is good for daddy to be there. (Elizabeth)

12 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Resilience among young parents with refugee backgrounds  Adjust to new responsibilities (financial, care-giving etc)  Draw upon the available support of family  Use personal resources  Adjust and maintain hopes for their futures  Return to study and seek employment Pregnancy and early parenthood comes at a time when they are also confronting the challenges of early settlement.

13 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre Young people with refugee backgrounds who experience early pregnancy face particular challenges to many of the core domains of ‘integration’. The Indicators of Integration Framework (Ager and Strang 2004). provide programmatic settlement support for young parents with refugee backgrounds. reproductive and sexual health education programs (preventative angle)? should ‘integration potential’ inform refugee and humanitarian resettlement programs?

14 La Trobe Refugee Research Centre “Although resettlement countries [like Australia] can do nothing to alter the past that refugees bring with them, they can do a great deal to make resettlement as effective and painless as possible.” Morton Beiser, 2005 Social inclusion or social integration?


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