This guide explains the most common challenges that refugees often face in settling in Australia. While many of these challenges are similar to those of other migrants, refugees often face other challenges.
‘Settlement’ is commonly used to refer to the process of refugees settling into a new country. Settlement is a two-way process. Both refugees, and the wider community, have to adapt to refugees coming to Australia. For settlement to be successful, there must be a ‘spirit of hospitality’, where refugees are made to feel welcomed into a community.
As well, for people to settle successfully, government policies and institutions are needed to make sure that all mainstream services include refugee-sensitive programs, and those working with refugees need specialist training and support. Governments also need to fund community sector projects, and information and research should be shared and benchmarks, standards and monitoring processes must be developed.
A key to successful settlement is developing links between refugees and the host community. Volunteers play an essential role in this, providing a very special connection with refugees that goes beyond the kind of support that can be provided by paid employees. Where volunteers are used, however, it is essential that they be selected, trained, monitored and supported throughout their period of involvement with the refugees.
Essential factors in successful settlement include income support, housing, employment, education, health care and family reunion. Other, less tangible, factors also play a vital role in the settlement process, including:
- being able to feel safe and secure;
- restoring a sense of self worth;
- restoring a sense of dignity;
- regaining a sense of control over one’s life;
- resolving guilt; and
- processing grief about the loss of self and country.
For further information, see the Report of the International Conference on the Reception and Integration of Resettled Refugees.