A space for us: exploring how newly arrived young women experience gender specific youth programs

Muslim women Youth services Women Immigration Youth Women's health Melbourne Metropolitan Area
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This qualitative research used feminist and phenomenological methods to explore how newly arrived young women (NAYW) aged 19 – 21 years, experience young women’s programs
they participated in. Understanding young women’s experiences is important because little academic literature exists about this. With significant numbers of young women settling in
Melbourne over the last seven years it is important to ensure that settlement services and youth programs are aware of the specific needs of this group. This awareness can help to
ensure that young women experience positive settlement outcomes and have every opportunity to achieve their full life potential.

This research contributes to an environment in which little academic evidence exists about the needs of NAYW as they settle in Australia. The literature review found evidence to
support the development of gender specific groups: as a violence prevention strategy; to deliver culturally appropriate sexual health information, and; as a more culturally appropriate
intervention for Muslim women. This showed that there are benefits of women’s programs, however no published data specifically addressed how and why gender specific programs are
useful for NAYW as they experience settlement.

Through participation in this research this thesis gave voice to five NAYW to help inform services targeting young people to consider the specific needs and experiences of this group.
It explored their experiences of gender issues and gender specific programs and how this impacted on their settlement experience. This research found that gender specific programs are a culturally appropriate and a beneficial intervention that can aid the settlement process for NAYW. It uncovered that gender is a significant factor influencing young women’s lives and how they interact with others.

This research also confirmed the existing literature that acknowledges that families are important to NAYW. It highlighted that when services engage with families this can help
facilitate better access to programs. The gender specific nature of young women’s programs can also increase the likelihood of NAYW’s engagement with services. This thesis provides
some recommendation that services, policy makers and academics can use to enhance the settlement experience for NAYW.

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