The Experience of International Students Before and During COVID-19: Housing, work, study, and wellbeing

 University of Technology Sydney, Australian Research Council study (DP190101073),

International students’ experience of renting accommodation in Australia is a crucial but overlooked determinant of their wellbeing, which has been brought into stark relief by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report is based on two surveys of international students in the private rental sector (PRS). The first survey was conducted in the second half of 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second survey in June and the first week of July 2020, during the pandemic.

The findings of the first survey show that a substantial proportion of international students were already in a precarious situation before the pandemic.

The second survey reveals the various impacts of the pandemic on international students in the private rental sector and the extent to which their circumstances have deteriorated.

The report also draws on data from the initial stage of the qualitative component of the study – semi-structured in-depth interviews with international students conducted between April and July 2020. Quotes from some of the 26 semi-structured interviews conducted thus far, are presented alongside the survey data evidence that follows.

Although the focus is on the experiences of private renting, the report has taken a broader sociological approach to student housing problems and, as such, it offers wider insights into the wellbeing, employment, and income situations of international students at a crucial turning point for the Australian higher education sector

Flux Study COVID-19 Diary Recruitment and Report

Kirby Institute, UNSW, July 2020

Social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 may affect how gay and bisexual men are arranging their sex lives and taking care of their health. And this will likely also affect trends in HIV infection and STIs over coming months, or even years. Monitoring the impact of COVID-19, before, during, and after the pandemic, is essential to understanding and responding to trends in HIV infection, mental health, and STIs.

​This study investigating the lived experiences of COVID-19 among gay and bisexual men including isolation, support, mental health and resilience, income loss, and access to health services. We will address how gay and bisexual men experience, engage with, and emerge from, COVID-19.

What does participation in this research require? 

If you decide to take part in this study, we will ask you to do the following:

  1. Your first questionnaire: This questionnaire collects information about you and your previous experiences.

  2. Weekly diary: After completing the your first survey, you will be asked to complete a 5-minute diary each Sunday.

What’s in it for you? 

We value our participants! To show our appreciation, for every survey you complete, you’ll automatically go in a raffle to win prizes in the form of gift cards to the value of $200.

Links

Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting: comparison between a nationwide survey in midwifery practices and extrapolation-model

Kawous, R., van den Muijsenbergh, M.E.T.C., Geraci, D. et al. 

Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting in the Netherlands: a comparison between a nationwide survey in midwifery practices and extrapolation-model

BMC Public Health 201033 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09151-0

Background

Owing to migration, female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) has become a growing concern in host countries in which FGM/C is not familiar. There is a need for reliable estimates of FGM/C prevalence to inform medical and public health policy. We aimed to advance methodology for estimating the prevalence of FGM/C in diaspora by determining the prevalence of FGM/C among women giving birth in the Netherlands.

Methods

Two methods were applied to estimate the prevalence of FGM/C in women giving birth: (I) direct estimation of FGM/C was performed through a nationwide survey of all midwifery practices in the Netherlands and (II) the extrapolation model was adopted for indirect estimation of FGM/C, by applying population-based-survey data on FGM/C in country of origin to migrant women who gave birth in 2018 in the Netherlands.

 

Call for allies to step up with LGBTQ distress ‘worse than after postal survey’

Sydney Morning Herald, February 23, 2020

Four out of five LGBTQ+ people say they feel worse now than they did after the “yes” vote on same-sex marriage, describing the debate over religious discrimination as “Marriage Equality 2.0” because it is amplifying negative voices.

The findings are from the Make Love Louder report by Macquarie University researcher Shirleene Robinson.

It found three out of four LGBTQ+ Australians have personally experienced negativity or discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity and one in four experience it on a daily basis. For transgender Australians, four out of five have experienced it, two out of five on a daily basis.

The research suggests 63 per cent of Australians support the LGBTQ+ community, but three out of four of these, dubbed allies, are “silent supporters”. Dr Robinson said it was important for allies to be vocal to “make love louder than hate”.

Meanwhile, separate research by mental health charity Headspace found most LGBTQ+ young people experience high or very high psychological distress.

 

 

Increased usage and confidence in antiretroviral PrEP for the prevention of HIV found in UNSW study

UNSW, December 2019

The number of gay and bisexual men using PrEP to prevent HIV infection has almost doubled in the last two years, according to the latest report from the PrEPARE Project.  

The national online survey of Australian gay and bisexual men found that 43% of gay and bisexual men had used the antiretroviral drug in 2019, up from 24% in 2017. This increase aligns with falling HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in many jurisdictions.

The PrEP users surveyed reported positive experiences of using the drug, with the majority reporting reduced concern about HIV and increased sexual pleasure as a result. They also reported fewer concerns about disclosing PrEP use to others.

  • Read the 2019 survey report by the Centre for Social Research in Health.

 

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.