Refugee Youth Voice: Postcards to the Premier - Engagement Australia
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Refugee Youth Voice: Postcards to the Premier

Refugee Youth Voice: Postcards to the Premier

The Refugee Youth Voice: Postcards to the Premier Project originated with Peter Shergold, the NSW Coordinator General for Refugee resettlement, and his desire to more closely include young refugees in the policy-making process. Western Sydney University researcher, Dr. Karin Mackay, was commissioned to design a research project in collaboration with Multicultural NSW that would include the perspectives of young refugees regarding the challenges and opportunities faced in the resettlement process. The aim was for young refugee’s diverse young voices to be heard, represented, and embedded into policy recommendations. The project was also part of the broader Refugee Youth Policy Initiative instigated by Professor Shergold and Multicultural NSW. The objectives of this initiative were to build the capacity of young refugees to exercise agency and leadership, demonstrate their strength and resilience, and contribute to policy-making processes.

The research found that refugee youth in Metropolitan and Regional NSW needed to overcome many hurdles during settlement, and it was these challenges—often taken for granted—that combined to make life hard. They commented that there was a persistent trauma in everyday experiences like not knowing how to navigate transport, housing, education, and services. They felt like they had to “work twice as hard” to achieve a basic quality of life, and that their aspirations were limited. Despite this, many young refugees that participated in this research showed tremendous optimism, strength, and resilience. The youthful power they exuded was a strong message of hope.

The research implemented an effective model for authentic engagement with young refugees and have a positively influence refugee policy development in the NSW Government. Thus, it might address to some extent the complex nature of challenges faced by young refugees during settlement.

PROJECT OUTCOMES:
– 2 peer researches have gained employment at WSU
– Policy workshops have been held with state and federal governmental representation with 9 peer researchers
– 2 more peer researchers have co-presented at research conferences on the research with Multicultural NSW
– 3 more peer researchers will be presenting on a Q and A panel at the “United Voices” Conference in November for refugee and migrant pathways into education
– Policy themes were developed and will inform NSW refugee resettlement policy
– Research report with cover art by one of the refugee participants
– Strong links forged with resettlement service providers in some regions and locations with one young African woman being asked to be Youth liaison officer for Police, talk to schools and work with Sydwest Multicultural services