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Changing worlds: The resettlement experiences of African migrants in Australia and an evaluation of current support services

Ikafa, Irene (2015) Changing worlds: The resettlement experiences of African migrants in Australia and an evaluation of current support services. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study investigated the resettlement experiences of both involuntary (refugees) and voluntary African migrants to Western Australia using Peplau’s Interpersonal Relationship Theory (IRT) as its theoretical framework. Peplau’s IRT was used primarily in Chapter 7 and 8 to inform the findings of Migrant Support Service Providers (MSSPs), to establish how migrant support services might be strengthened and to understand how this theory can support migrants in some areas.

Despite increasing numbers of African migrants resettling in Australia, little research has examined their experiences during this process. The following research questions were asked: 1) what are the resettlement experiences of African migrants living in Western Australia? 2) what is the status of their mental health and how do they cope with stress? and 3) what are their perspectives about migrant support services?

This study utilised a mixed-method research design in which quantitative and qualitative approaches were used. Convenience, snowballing and purposive sampling resulted in a sample of 115 migrant participants from Sub-Saharan African countries living in Western Australia (WA) and five Migrant Support Service Providers in WA. Recruited migrant participants were provided with a survey questionnaire. Out of 115 migrant participants, 30 participants also agreed to be interviewed. The purpose of the interviews was to explore the experiences of migrants in narration to fully understand the issues affecting them. Descriptive statistics, an independent t-test and one-way and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to analyse the survey data, and interpretive qualitative methods were used to analyse the interviews.

Most participants were involuntary migrants (refugees) from war-affected countries and a few were voluntary migrants from non-war-affected countries. Reasons for migration included escaping civil war and seeking better life opportunities. The participants reported good general health and mental health and were generally quite positive about their future in Australia. Feelings about the future were more negative for participants who were unemployed than for those who were employed. Most participants from war-affected countries utilised services from Centrelink, Migrant Resource Centres and Homeswest.

Most migrants reported being well integrated and appreciated safety and security in Australia, in addition to educational opportunities for themselves and their children. Some migrants often experienced racial discrimination, and felt isolated and lonely. Coping strategies by migrants included seeking support from family, friends and faith communities and most felt that information about support services was not sufficient, and recommended accessible and culturally appropriate services.

Migrant Support Service Providers (MSSPs) indicated that support services for migrants were not sufficient and not easily accessible. They recommended ways to improve support services, such as consulting with migrants, adapting services to meet their needs and coordinating longer-term services.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Supervisor: Perry, Laura, Arena, Phillip and Harbaugh, Allen Gregg
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