Dissertation Abstracts

The intersection between Australia's humanitarian settlement policies and settlement realities of young African refugees

Author: Mavis Boamah, boamahmavis@ymail.com
Department: Social Science
University: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Supervisor: Professor Michael Leach
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: refugees , humanitarian policy , African , education
Areas of Research: Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Community Research , Education


Newly arrived refugees to Australia have access to the vast array of programs and services available to most Australian citizens and permanent residents. These programs are provided by the federal, state, and local governments, and the private sectors to address settlement needs. Currently, literature about refugees’ settlement, particularly refugees from Africa mostly record challenges, with less focus on the skills, strength and memories that can be turned into assets to support their resettlement. It can be argued that this deficit approach and blind spot in refugee scholarship could be attributed to the fact that there has been no comprehensive study that relates the findings of the available literature on resettlement to an analysis of changes in government humanitarian policies, and programs to ascertain the intersection between settlement policies and programs and the realities of refugees’ experiences. This research is divided into two phases. Phase one provides nuanced account of Australia’s humanitarian history and policy frameworks and analyses four youth-related Commonwealth-funded humanitarian programs. Phase two of the research will collect data from young Africans from refugee backgrounds living in Australia on their lived experiences of these policies and programs. Studies reveal that policy promises and implications are hidden, and conclusions warranted based on assumptions of policy makers and other stakeholders. This makes it critical to seek the perspectives of people who have first-hand experience of the policies and programs. I therefore aim to find out what humanitarian policies and programs intend to achieve and the experiences of young refugees included in these programs. The research will further provide insight into the educational experiences of young African refugees to understand strategies they draw on to complete (secondary) education in Australia amidst their experiences, and what success and inclusion mean to them as part of their resettlement journeys.