STARTTS, Carramar, Australia
Primary Conference Theme: Community Perspectives- Refugee voices and comments
BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
The multiple, complex traumas and stressors associated with mass conflict, forced migration and resettlement can cause fundamental disruptions to an individual’s view of themselves, their place in the world and their relationships with others. Some disruptions are unique to certain cultural groups, while others may be common across refugee communities. To develop standardized psychosocial assessment tools for this heterogeneous population, we need more information about the challenges they face.
This aim of this study was to undertake focus groups to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the psychosocial problems experienced by different groups of refugees who have recently arrived in Australia. This information is being used to help inform the
development of the psychosocial subscale for a New Refugee Assessment Tool. The Tool is being developed as part of a larger, international research collaboration.
The focus groups involved male and female refugee and asylum seeker participants who had arrived in Australia within the past 5 years. These participants came from the Bhutanese, Mandaean, Hazara, Liberian and Tamil communities. The groups were facilitated
in the participants’ own languages and covered their perceptions of the psychological, social and functional challenges experienced by their communities.
RESULTS AND CHALLENGES:
The seven focus groups revealed significant similarities and differences amongst the refugee and asylum seekers across the various cultural groups. The similarities pertained to the practical needs of the participants, whilst the differences reflected differing residency/citizenship status and cultural beliefs.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS:
The psychosocial themes derived from the focus groups provide a greater understanding of the challenges affecting different refugee communities in Australia. Participants suggested possible solutions to the issues that arose. The themes will be incorporated into the New Refugee Assessment Tool, which will be discussed further.