The Powerhouse Radio Show pilot project involved young people from refugee backgrounds media and radio production workshops to investigate solutions to the challenges of their resettlement. It drew on established research that places community radio as an important cultural resource and utilised the UniCast internet radio station, based at the University of South Australia. The Powerhouse Radio Show consisted of eight radio shows broadcast on UniCast over a four week period which were also made available via podcast on a WordPress blog. Seven of these programs were one-hour episodes and a two-hour live edition was presented as a “grand finale”. A Facebook page and Soundcloud account were also used to promote and disseminate the radio series content.
This was an Action Research Project. This approach involves testing ideas in practice as a means of improving social, economic or environmental conditions and increasing knowledge. Eight young people of refugee experience, aged between 18 and 24 years, participated in the project. It should be noted that, while the number of participants was small, this was considered to be a success given the short time period allowed for recruitment and implementation of the pilot. With a timeframe of just over four months from recruitment to final report submission, the generic problems associated with ‘cold-recruiting’ young people of refugee experience were exacerbated.
This working paper focuses on how engagement in media production, through a community radio project, can assist in the settlement experiences of young people of refugee background. It draws mostly on the final stage interviews of the project, along with observations made during the participatory action research process. The findings of this pilot research project suggest this radio project assisted the participants to feel more confident in their (English) communication skills, and gave them a sense of being heard in the community, while exposing them to a diverse group of people and a new set of practical skills. As a preliminary finding, this suggests that participation in community radio can have a beneficial effect on a young person’s settlement experience, in line with Ager and Strang’s (2008) perceptions of what constitutes ‘successful’ resettlement.