Refugee Settlement and Wellbeing over the Life Course

22 May 2018

There are now more people displaced by war and other disasters than at any time since the Second World War. Although most live in low-income countries, more than 1 million people have sought asylum in Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia in the last few years. This influx has had profound effects on domestic politics in those countries and challenged the abilities of NGOs and governments to meet the needs of people in search of refuge.

In order to better understand refugee settlement and its implications on individuals and on society, Germany, the UK and Australia each commissioned national surveys of refugee migrants:

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Life Course Centre), together with the Institute for Social Science Research and UQ School of Social Science, brought international experts to an audience spanning Australian NGOs, government departments and universities to discuss the surveys' research findings.

They outlined a number of measures taken to ensure that data collection and analysis is ethical, appropriate and rigorous, and provided pointers for further data analysis. Researcher Melisa Bubonya, Life Course Centre PhD student from the University of Sydney, attended out of interest for her research on the outcomes of immigrant children in Australia. Melisa said about the symposium, “Hearing about the new data sources for the Australian refugees, and particularly the strengths and weaknesses of the data, before I started using them myself was especially valuable.”

Attendees also heard practical findings with implications for improving refugee physical and mental health, employment participation, and parenting and child wellbeing. Dr Claire Jones, Director of Australian Refugee and Migrant Care Services, Ltd said “I have incorporated some of the [BNLA] findings on trauma, health and self-sufficiency into my upcoming TEDx talk. I will also use the information in planning upcoming projects and programmes for ARMCare.”

The diverse audience engaged in an interactive Q&A, and informally during breaks, around budding research and policy implications for successful refugee settlement and integration.

Appreciation is given to Dr Walter Forrest, Senior Lecturer in the UQ School of Social Science, for organising the symposium. Walter is pictured below on the far right, preceded by (from left to right) Prof Janeen Baxter, Dr Hans Dietrich, Prof Sin Yi Cheung, and Prof Tarani Chandola.

About the presenters

Presentations were delivered by: the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Department of Social Services National Centre for Longitudinal Data, Institute for Employment Research (Germany), Cardiff University (UK), University of Manchester (UK), the Australian National University, and The University of Queensland.

View the symposium outline for a full list of topics and contributing researchers.  International presenter bios are below.

Professor Tarani Chandola – The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Prof Sin Yi Cheung (front left), Prof Tarani Chandola (back left), Dr Patrick Rouxel (back right), Prof Janeen Baxter (front right) 

Tarani (pictured in the back left) is a Professor of Medical Sociology. He joined the University of Manchester and the Cathie Marsh Institute in April 2010, was the head of the Disciplinary Area of Social Statistics (2012-2014) and the director of the Cathie Marsh Institute (2013-2016). He was formerly at the UCL Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and prior to that completed his PhD and post-doc at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He is a co-director of two ESRC centres: the National Centre for Research Methods and the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health

Professor Sin Yi Cheung - University of Cardiff, United Kingdom

Prof Sin Yi Cheung

Sin Yi holds a D. Phil in Sociology from the University of Oxford. Her research addresses different forms of social inequalities in Britain and in comparative perspectives. Sin Yi has published on the changing inequalities in higher education, ethno-religious penalties in the labour market, lone parents on benefits, claimants' dynamics, children in care, and refugee integration. Her research has attracted funding from the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, as well as central government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions, and local authorities. Sin Yi has held visiting positions at Wisconsin-Madison, UCLA, and Stanford University. During her research leave (2017-18), she is taking up a JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Invitation Fellowship to visit the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo, as well as spending six months at New York University as a visiting scholar.

Dr Hans Dietrich - Institute for Employment Research, Nürnberg, Bavaria, Germany

Dr Hans Dietrich

Hans Dietrich works on several topics related to the life course, inequality, education and the labour market, mainly from the perspective of school-to-work transition. He has published numerous contributions and articles on youth unemployment and youth schemes, vocational training and entry into the labour market from a national and a cross-country perspective. Current research projects focus on the educational decisions of German academic secondary school graduates, the labour market entry of vocational training graduates, and the outcome of pre-training schemes for less-qualified school leavers in Germany.