Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia

Ziersch, A., Due, C. & Walsh, M. Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia. BMC Public Health 20108 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8068-3

Abstract

Background

Research has shown that discrimination is harmful to health, but there is relatively little known about discrimination experienced by people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in resettlement countries and associated health effects. This qualitative-focused mixed methods paper reports on discrimination experienced by refugees and asylum seekers, responses to discrimination, and impacts on health.

Methods

As part of a broader study of housing, social inclusion and health, surveys were completed by 423 adult refugees and asylum seekers living in South Australia who had been in Australia for up to 7 years. The survey included questions on discrimination based on skin colour, ethnicity and religion, as well as questions on hope, trust, belonging, sense of control and health (including the SF-8). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 65 survey participants, purposively sampled by visa status, continent and gender, further exploring experiences of discrimination. These and survey open-ended responses were analysed thematically.

Results

Twenty-two percent of survey participants reported experiences of discrimination since arriving in Australia (14% in the last year), and 90% of these felt that discrimination had harmed their health. Key settings of discrimination were public transport, within the neighbourhood, and in relation to employment. Those who reported discrimination had significantly worse mental health (p < .000) but not physical health. Discrimination was also associated with less sense of belonging (p = .001), lower levels of trust (p = .038), reduced sense of control (p = .012) and less hope (p = .006). Incidents described in interviews and the open-ended survey responses included incivility, physical assault, and denial of services, experienced across intersecting characteristics of race/ethnicity, religion, gender and visa status. Responses to discrimination spanned affective, cognitive and behavioural dimensions, ranging across types of experience, participant characteristics and context, with most individuals reporting multiple response types. While some of the responses were reported by participants as protective of health, participants’ reflections indicated significant negative impacts on mental health in particular.

Conclusion

Discrimination featured in the resettlement experiences of a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers, with participants reporting clear negative impacts on mental health. Addressing discrimination is a key resettlement and health issue requiring urgent action.

Refugee-led peak national advocacy organisation launched in Melbourne

Refugee Communities Association of Australia Inc., 11 Feb 2020

Refugee Communities Association of Australia Inc (RCAA) was launched at the Multicultural Hub: AMES Australia on 8th February in Melbourne, with the aim to empower refugee communities across Australia, enabling them to take active roles in Australia.

For a long-time refugee community in Australia have been represented by external agencies and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) or by refugees under the remit of these organisations.

Migrant women’s groups commend voting down of ‘racist’ amendment to NSW abortion bill

SBS, 19th September 2019

Groups representing migrant women in Australia have praised the voting down of a controversial amendment to NSW’s proposed abortion bill that would have explicitly banned abortions on the basis of gender selection.

The amendment had been labelled “racist” and a “dog-whistle” on the basis it specifically targeted Indian and Chinese communities as responsible for using abortion as a means of gender selection in a bid to have male children.

A joint statement released ahead of the debate on Wednesday, signed by six advocacy groups for multicultural women, said the proposed amendment risked “introducing racial profiling and amplifying discrimination in our healthcare system”.

Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Bangkok: July 2019

The resource “Blueprint for  Sexual and Reproductive  Health, Rights, and Justice” has just been released by Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and endorsed by multiple international organisations. 

While it focuses on US policy environ, it is more broadly applicable: in particular the focus on sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice – as well as the intersections with numerous other issues such as  gender equity, racial equity, economic justice, environmental justice, the right to community safety, immigrants’ rights, indigenous people’s rights, LGBTQ+ liberation, young people’s rights, and the rights of people with disabilities.

Because sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice intersect with numerous other issues, policy solutions must also seek to further gender equity, racial equity, economic justice, environmental justice, the right to community safety, immigrants’
rights, indigenous people’s rights, LGBTQ+ liberation, young people’s rights, and the rights of people with disabilities.

  • Principle 1: Ensure that Sexual and Reproductive Health Care is Accessible to All People
  • Principle 2: Ensure Discriminatory Barriers in Health Care are Eliminated
  • Principle 3: Ensure that Research and Innovation Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Now and in the Future
  • Principle 4: Ensure Health, Rights, Justice, and Wellness for All Communities
  • Principle 5: Ensure Judges and Executive Officials Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice are essential for sustainable economic development, are intrinsically linked to equity and well-being, and are
critical to maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, family, and community health.
Health care cannot truly be comprehensive if it does not include sexual and reproductive health

New sexual health videos in English, Arabic, Karen and Punjab

Health Translations Directory (Victorian Government of Australia), February  2018
Health Translations Directory has now added some new audiovisual files in English, Arabic, Karen and Punjab, developed by Family Planning Victoria. These are part of a series of videos about periods, pregnancy and contraception, for newly arrived migrant and refugee women in Australia.

The videos provide general information.lease speak to a health professional for appropriate individual advice.

(Note: These links may not work in all browsers – Internet explorer/Edge recommended)

 

Temporary migration and family violence: an analysis of victimisation, support and vulnerability

Monash University / InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence, 2017

Family violence does not discriminate. However, it is known that for various subsets of the population, both the experience of family violence and the support and response options do vary, in some cases significantly. The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (VRCFV) acknowledged the importance of recognising these points of differentiation among key groups.

This report presents the results of the first comprehensive study of a subset of the immigrant and refugee community: temporary migrants. This group is comprised of those who are in Australia on temporary visas, which include partner-related visas, as well as working, student, visitor and other temporary visas.

Temporary migration status matters in the context of family violence because, in addition to the acknowledged levers of financial, emotional, technological, physical and sexual abuse that occur across situations of family violence, uncertainty of migration status creates additional leverage for violence and control.

This report draws on detailed cases of 300 women who sought the support service of InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence over 2015–16. The findings lay the ground for a range of potential interventions and improved responses for this group of women, on the basis of significant data that details the specific impact of migration status on the experience of family violence and access to support.

In summary, this report urges recognition of the following:

  • Temporary migration status impacts women regardless of whether or not they are eligible to apply for the family violence provision
  • On the one hand, migration status is prioritised over and above the experience of family violence. The response and support made available is dependent on migration status first and foremost, rather than risk and need in relation to experiencing family violence. This is most evident in relation to the limits on access to financial and housing support for women with temporary migration status.
  • On the other, migration status is often not factored into assessment of risk. The failure to recognise, understand and assess risk pertaining to migration status results in limited recognition of violence, abuse and coercion in all their forms, and their impact.
  • As a nation we are only just coming to grips with the complexity of family violence, the interventions required to better understand and manage risk, what is required to prevent family violence and what we need to do to ensure a comprehensive, impactful and efficient response. It is critical that we respond to family violence first and foremost, in its various manifestations across Australia, and that we recognise and support all victims equally, regardless of migration status or any other point of difference.

Access full report (PDF): Temporary Migration and Family Violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support