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Discrimination Against Refugees in a New Country Essay

Executive Summary

Resettlement can be broadly defined as the integration of a refugee into a new society (Fozdar & Hartley 2013, p. 24). However, discrimination tends to prevent refugees from being integrated while causing multiple issues and generally reducing their quality of life (Fozdar & Hartley 2013; Neumann et al. 2014). As a result, modern research should be used to assess the issue of discrimination and inform solutions for it (Neumann et al. 2014).

The present report reviews the key features of discrimination, including its causes and consequences and discusses the logic of anti-discriminatory solutions, which are currently employed in the world. It is established that the two types of discrimination (individual and structural) are addressed by policies and educational efforts (Neumann et al. 2014). Similarly, it is shown that policies are often used to reduce the effect of the consequences of discrimination (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014). However, the report argues that the educational interventions are particularly important because of their ability to affect attitudes and the lack of awareness, which appear to be the major reasons for the existence of discrimination (Block et al. 2014).

Discrimination against Refugees: A Literature Review

In many countries, including Australia (Nunn et al. 2014), refugees report being subjected to discrimination on various levels, including interpersonal and structural ones. Moreover, certain statistical data can testify to the possibility of discrimination, including lower employment and earnings among refugees as compared to the native population (Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2014).

Similarly, the investigation of certain groups of people, including employees, tends to reveal instances of interpersonal discrimination (Fozdar & Hartley 2013, p. 45; Dandy & Pe-Pua 2015). It is also important that refugees can experience intersectional discrimination and vulnerability. For instance, the discrimination that is related to gender or age can further limit the opportunities for refugees (Bartolomei, Eckert & Pittaway, 2014; Nunn et al. 2014). As a result, the specific set of challenges that are faced by a refugee can depend on multiple features that are not always connected.

The causes of discrimination are multiple. They include the lack of awareness and negative attitudes in the population, which are fostered by media imagery (Block et al. 2014). Cultural and linguistic differences may cause negative attitudes (Dandy & Pe-Pua 2015), and the same can be said about other discrepancies, including socioeconomic ones (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014). Certain politicians are also known to translate discriminatory ideas (Block et al. 2014). Moreover, the presence of discriminatory policies tends to institutionalize discrimination (Nunn et al. 2014). The reasons for the existence of such policies may include the lack of funding for the solutions of the issue (Fozdar & Hartley 2013, p. 23). To sum up, the reasons for discrimination are multiple and include personal as well as institutional factors.

The negative outcomes of discrimination are multiple: discrimination limits the access to various services (Fozdar & Hartley 2013), restricts employment opportunities (Akbari & MacDonald 2014; Nunn et al. 2014), and causes psychological discomfort or issues (Um et al. 2015). Moreover, the restricted access to certain services can have particularly grave impacts: for example, the lack of inclusive education contributes to employment restrictions (Block et al. 2014), and the decreased access to healthcare services results in health deterioration (Edge & Newbold 2012; Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014).

The mentioned outcomes can be combined with the obstacles that refugees tend to experience (for example, poor health that is connected to pre-migration events, disrupted education, cultural shock, and others), which significantly lowers the quality of life of refugees (Nunn et al. 2014). In the end, discrimination tends to lead to social exclusion (Dandy & Pe-Pua 2015), which prevents resettlement.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (2014) offers an overview of 2011 Census data on employment of the Australian population (p. 16).
Figure 1. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (2014) offers an overview of 2011 Census data on employment of the Australian population (p. 16).

In Figure 1, an example of data, which can be used to track discrimination, is presented. The figure shows that the specifics of employment in Australia vary depending on the country of origin, but few groups demonstrate higher employment and lower unemployment rates when compared to the Australian-born population. Discrimination is only one of the factors that can contribute to such an outcome, but the data still shows a discrepancy, which is likely to involve discrimination (Akbari & MacDonald 2014; Nunn et al. 2014). The government of Australia seeks to eliminate this issue through comprehensive solutions (Fozdar & Hartley 2013).

Since discrimination can take place at various levels, the only feasible solution involves multiple elements. These elements, however, tend to target different aspects of discrimination, which is why they can also be assessed separately. In general, the elements tend to refer to either individual or institutional level; also, they seem to be aimed at the prevention of discrimination or the alleviation of its consequences.

First, institution-level policies that lessen the causes of discrimination are required; they are supposed to involve appropriate measures for the reduction of discrepancies (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014). These measures can include, for example, workplace quotas, and they must be evidence-based (Neumann et al. 2014). Nowadays, governments pay increasing attention to these solutions (Fozdar & Hartley 2013, p. 23). Still, there seems to be a noticeable room for improvement, which, among other things, is related to working against interpersonal discrimination (Bartolomei, Eckert & Pittaway, 2014; Fozdar & Hartley 2013; Nunn et al. 2014).

Interpersonal discrimination tends to be addressed with the help of education programs, which are aimed at raising awareness (Block et al. 2014). It is another solution that targets the causes of discrimination. The consequences of discrimination must be addressed as well through respective policies, which can be regarded as another important element of countering discrimination. However, the latter policies cannot be effective unless the prevention of discriminatory practices takes place (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014). To sum up, the solutions to discrimination are as multi-level and complex as the issue itself.

Proposal: Education as the Key Measure

Neither of the elements of anti-discriminatory solutions can be disregarded, but prioritization is important because of the restricted funds that can be allocated to either of them (Fozdar & Hartley 2013, p. 23). As a result, it can be suggested that the topic of education appears to be particularly promising to a number of researchers (Block et al. 2014; Correa-Velez, Barnett & Gifford 2013; Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014). Indeed, education is regarded as a critical factor in the elimination of interpersonal discrimination. Block et al. (2014) point out that schools are a primary source of awareness improvement, which can target young learners and their parents. Correa-Velez, Barnett, and Gifford (2013) highlight the importance of employer education with the aim of reducing employment discrimination. In general, it can be suggested that the individual-level discrimination cannot be countered without the development of appropriate attitudes, and the key way to do so is education.

It is also noteworthy that the resettlement is a mutual, two-way process (Fozdar & Hartley 2013). With respect to refugees, it is important to educate them on their rights and opportunities as well as cultural specifics of the host country to promote meaningful, non-discriminatory communication between them and the native citizens (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014; Whine 2014). The fact that these activities also require education highlight the importance of this option.

Finally, it is noteworthy that individual-level interventions are likely to affect institutional-level ones. Indeed, the attention to the issue of refugee discrimination tends to result in increased amount of research on the topic, which provides evidence for policymakers (Neumann et al. 2014). Consequently, evidence-based policies, which are another requirement for the elimination of discriminatory practices (McMichael et al. 2014), are more likely to be developed by an aware government. Moreover, these policies are more likely to be accepted, acknowledged, and promoted by an aware society. Therefore, in the case of discrimination, the individual-level educational activities seem to promise very attractive outcomes.


The discrimination of refugees tends to prevent them from the integration, and to ensure their resettlement, the issue must be addressed (Fozdar & Hartley 2013). Discrimination tends to occur at the individual and institutional levels; also, it is caused by individual and institutional factors (Nunn et al. 2014). The former causes include negative attitudes bias (Block et al. 2014), and the latter are related to discriminatory policies and socioeconomic discrepancies (Nunn et al. 2014). Both these levels of factors can be targeted by policies and education; apart from that, policies can be aimed at reducing the consequences of discrimination (Nakhaie & Wijesingha 2014).

However, the education, which should be aimed at the awareness improvement, seems to be particularly important in the context of discrimination (Block et al. 2014). Apart from reducing the instances of individual discrimination (Correa-Velez, Barnett & Gifford 2013), it can foster the research, development, and acceptance of the policies aimed at resolving institutional-level discrimination (Neumann et al. 2014). Thus, educational measures appear to require prioritization in the context of the funding issues that tend to be experienced by the modern governments (Fozdar & Hartley 2013).


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Block, K, Cross, S, Riggs, E & Gibbs, L 2014, ‘Supporting schools to create an inclusive environment for refugee students’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 18, no. 12, pp. 1337-1355.

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McMichael, C, Nunn, C, Gifford, S & Correa-Velez, I 2014, ‘Studying refugee settlement through longitudinal research: methodological and ethical insights from the Good Starts study’, Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 238-257.

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Um, M, Chi, I, Kim, H, Palinkas, L & Kim, J 2015, ‘Correlates of depressive symptoms among North Korean refugees adapting to South Korean society: the moderating role of perceived discrimination’, Social Science & Medicine, vol. 131, pp. 107-113.

Whine, M 2014, “Combating antisemitism in Europe”, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 81-94.

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