Settlement outcomes of humanitarian youth and active citizenship: economic participation, social participation and personal wellbeing

Refugees Refugee settlement English language education Discrimination Mental health

Young people from humanitarian backgrounds experience settlement in ways distinct from children and adults, and have their own strengths and challenges.

This paper looks at how well young people aged 15-17 and 18-25 years old are settling in Australia, drawing on the 'Building a New Life in Australia' longitudinal study. It compares young people's English language proficiency, participation in study and training, diversity of friends, experience of discrimination, and psychological distress at Waves 1 and 3 of the study. These outcomes correspond to three of the four domains of the National Youth Settlement Framework - economic participation, social participation, and personal wellbeing - and provide insights for policy and practice targeting this population.

Key messages:

  • Young people from humanitarian backgrounds improve their English language skills and increase their participation in study or training over time.
  • Women aged 18–25 are lagging behind men and adolescents in their English proficiency. Targeted approaches are needed to support young women to improve their English skills.
  • Young people’s social networks in Australia show increased integration over time.
  • Participants report higher levels of discrimination with longer time in Australia. Given the negative effects of discrimination on wellbeing, ways need to be found to address discrimination at the personal, community and institutional levels
  • Young people in the BNLA show high levels of psychological distress – higher than in the general population. Addressing pre-migration trauma as well as settlement stressors relevant to young people is necessary to help improve mental health outcomes in this population.
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