The Refugee Council of Australia encourages and promotes research about and with refugees and people seeking asylum. As we receive many requests to participate in or facilitate research, we provide the following information to researchers about the kind of support we can give to this work.
There are many ethical considerations if you are conducting research with refugees or people seeking asylum. You may want to consult some resources such as:
Values and Vulnerabilities: The Ethics of Research with Refugees and Asylum Seekers (edited by Karen Block, Elisha Riggs and Nick Haslam)
Social research methods (5th ed) by A Bryman (2012) ch 6. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
If you are working in a university or other institution, you will generally need ethics approval for your research. Ethics approval from your institution is required by us before we cooperate on any research.
Research with people in detention
People wishing to conduct research with people in detention should know:
- People in detention are highly vulnerable. Any research involving them needs to be very carefully thought through, with proper ethics approval, and a good knowledge and understanding of the ethics of research with people in this situation.
- Currently people in detention are finding it difficult to meet with their own family, friends and supporters, because of restricted visitor access in detention centres. Priority should be given to making sure that their existing connections are not affected by any research
- People in detention are often contacted by people who ask for their story and then leave, and they never see them again. Researchers need to be aware that any research involving these people should have a concrete outcome that may benefit them.
For these and other reasons, the Refugee Council of Australia will not support research with people in detention other than with existing partners or people who already have ongoing relationships with people in detention.
Requests for direct contact with refugees and people seeking asylum
As a peak body focused on policy and advocacy, RCOA cannot help with requests to organise consultations, discussions or other forms of direct contact with refugees and people seeking asylum. For this research, we recommend contacting our member organisations who have direct contact with clients and who might have a strong interest in your research.
In general, we would provide the following advice before contacting member organisations:
- many of our member organisations are very busy and under-resourced doing their primary work, so they may be unable to respond to you in what you consider to be a timely way
- many organisations do not have community engagement workers who can help facilitate such requests so think about what practical support you will be able to provide
- think about what practical benefits your research might have both for the organisation that is helping you and for those who are participating in your research
- refugees and people seeking asylum are regularly asked to participate in consultations and research
- identify whether you can compensate people participating in your research for their time and travel, and the organisation itself for any staff or volunteer time involved
- researchers who already have strong relationships with organisations, through volunteering or other work with an organisation, will generally be preferred.
Requests to be on ARC Linkage projects
As a small non-government organisation, the Refugee Council of Australia cannot participate in ARC Linkage projects by contributing cash.
We may consider in-kind contributions through the use of staff time, in line with our priorities below.
Requests for interviews with RCOA staff
As an organisation with a small number of staff, we cannot meet the demand for requests for interviews. We therefore do not:
- grant interviews with high school or undergraduate students for the purpose of their course work, including journalism students
- grant interviews in relation to areas where we do not have relevant expertise, including matters relating to direct service delivery
- grant interviews where the interview does not add to our published work.
If you would like to request an interview and fall within these guidelines, please submit a request below.
Requests for circulation or promotion of research
The Refugee Council of Australia has a website and social media channels for promoting research, in addition to regular networks and engagement with our members.
You can submit your research proposal for us to promote. We will review these submissions in determining whether, in line with our priorities for interviews with RCOA staff, we:
- promote the research using our social media
- promote the research through our networks
- directly engage with researchers to learn more about their research.
If you would like to promote the outcomes of your research on our website, please submit a request below, including a blog post of 300-400 words with an image.
In deciding whether we will support research, we consider (along with our own capacity at the time):
- whether the research is in line with our own priorities
- whether the research is in a field where the Refugee Council of Australia has particular expertise or interest (as opposed to some of our member organisations)
- the track record of the researcher or institution
- any previous engagement we have had with the researcher, including experience as a volunteer, intern, member or official partnerships
- whether the researcher is someone from a refugee or asylum seeking background.