This report describes the key findings of a longitudinal study (2004—2008) investigating the experiences of settlement among a group of 120 recently arrived young people with refugee backgrounds settling in Melbourne, Australia. Each year, less than one per cent of the world’s refugees are offered resettlement in one of 18 countries participating in The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement programme. Australia offers places to around 13,500 people per year, of whom about 26 per cent are between the ages of 10 and 19. What are the experiences of these young people in their early settlement years? How do they negotiate the transition from childhood to adulthood given the traumas of their past and the challenges of their present and future in Australia? What are the key social determinants of wellbeing and good settlement and what can we learn from these young people about what social policies and services will most effectively support them to make successful lives in their new home? This study explores these questions, the overall aim being to identify the key social determinants of wellbeing and settlement and to describe the lived experiences of these young people as they shape their lives in Australia.
The specific objectives of the study were to identify the psychosocial factors that promote successful transitions during the settlement process and describe in depth the contexts, settings and social processes that promote health and wellbeing among young refugees over time.