Title

Young African women with refugee backgrounds living in Perth, Western Australia : acculturation and community connection

Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Jennifer Loh

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Guilfoyle

Abstract

Every year through Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program, between 10,000 and 13,000 refugees and special humanitarian entrants are admitted into the country - a growing proportion of who are under 30 years of age. Young adult refugees have been found to experience a unique set of challenges during the transitional phases of resettlement and acculturation when compared to children and older adult refugees. It is important to research how young adults uniquely experience resettlement in Australia as they represent a population who is able to make meaningful contributions to society. Discrepancies between how young adult females and males experience the phenomenon have also been recognised in the literature. The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of young former refugee women living in Perth, Western Australia, and investigate how resettlement influenced their acculturation process and formation of social connections. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with eight African women aged 19-24. Through interpretative phenomenological analysis, five distinct yet related themes emerged to reflect factors that either assisted or hindered the pursuit of integration. It was concluded that diverse supportive social networks, participation in sport, early age of arrival and personal factors (optimism and resilience) facilitated integration. Small and homogenous social networks, lack of knowledge about services, racism and parental control were identified as barriers to integration. The findings complied with previous research by confirming that young adult refugee women encounter unique obstacles following resettlement because of their age and gender. The results also suggested that despite negative resettlement experiences, the sample remain optimistic about their future in Australia. Implications for future research and recommendations for youth resettlement programs are also discussed.

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