Empowering migrant and refugee women: supporting and empowering women beyond five-year post-settlement

Refugees Immigration Women Australia

This report presents findings from the Empowering Migrant and Refugee Women study, undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. This study was commissioned by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to build evidence on practical strategies that could empower migrant and refugee women in the areas of women’s safety; economic and social participation; leadership opportunities; and to foster their role in promoting community cohesion. This report explores various aspects of service delivery to migrant women who have been living in Australia for at least five years. It documents the nature and types of service available, and identifies best practice principles and key service gaps in service delivery for migrant and refugee women. This report also outlines key priorities for addressing these service gaps. 

Aims and focus of the research

The study focused on two specific cohorts of migrant women who have been in Australia for more than five years. One cohort is former Humanitarian Programme entrants including Woman at Risk visa holders and the other cohort is women who entered Australia on family visas.

The project had the following key aims:

  • Improve understanding of the current state of migrant women’s economic and social participation.
  • Document the nature and types of services available to these two cohorts of migrant women.
  • Assess the extent to which these services/programs are evidence-based or display promising practices.
  • Identify best practice and service gaps in relation to services and programs provided to Humanitarian Programme migrants or family stream migrants who have been in Australia for five years or more.
  • Provide recommendations on key priorities for government to undertake in filling these gaps.

Research design

The study comprised two distinct components:

  • to improve understanding of migrant women’s economic and social participation, which involved secondary analyses of two key datasets: 1) the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset (ACMID; 2011 Census); and 2) the Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) dataset; and
  • to identify good practice and key gaps in service and program delivery, primary data was collected via: 1) stakeholder consultations (and an Expert Reference Group); 2) an online quantitative survey (n = 129); and 3) semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 13), with service providers delivering programs and services to migrant and refugee women.

The findings in this report are based on the perspectives of service providers who were asked to reflect on their professional practices and service delivery in the online survey or qualitative interview. Speaking to migrant women themselves about their issues with service delivery access would be a useful future direction to complement this research and further enhance understanding of the service sector.

Publication Details


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