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Australia has experienced an increasing number of immigrants and refugees for more than three centuries now. During 18th and 19th centuries, most immigrants who came to Australia were Europeans and Chinese. These immigrants came to colonize Australia in a bid to obtain land for settlement, deport prisoners, and exploit gold.
From 1890 to 1970, the colonial government of Australia introduced White Australia Policy, which restricted immigration of non-Europeans. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, Australia adopted multicultural policy that led to increased Asian refugees. In the late 20th century, world unrest in places such as East Timor, Yugoslavia, Jakarta, South Africa, Argentina, coupled with the rise of communism in Europe created a large number of refugees and immigrants who increased the population of Australia.
Sudan’s Civil War and Afghanistan’s War on Terror contributed a large number of refugees and immigrants in the 21th century. According to Craig (1999), Australia has received over 500,000 refugees in the past 50 years (p.4). Due to a large number of refugees that Australia is hosting, Refugee Council of Australia (RCA) is currently having over 130 organizational members that support the process of offering essential services to refugees. Survey carried out showed that health, housing, and education are essential services that refugees require in Auburn, New South Wales (NSW).
Survey carried out showed refugees in Auburn require more health services, for they face many health challenges. Realizing that refugees have many health issues, Australian ministry of health prepared strategic policy in 1999 to provide a framework for NSW healthcare system to deliver appropriate health care services that suit the needs of refugees.
Strategic policy aimed at enabling refugees to receive multilingual information from NSW healthcare system, access comprehensive health assessment, closely link with health professionals and access health professional interpreters who speak the native language of refugees.
Craig (1999) argues that, refugees need a comprehensive health strategy because they have traumatized experiences and are most vulnerable to diseases; hence, they should access health care services promptly (p.6). Therefore, strategic policy ensured that refugees have access to health care services and alleviate their vulnerability to health problems.
After the successful implementation of the strategic policy of 1999, the Australian government noted that refugees demanded more health services, which prompted it to prepare NSW Refugee Health Plan for 2011 to 2016. According to Stewart (2011), the health plan is a comprehensive plan that aims at improving health status and welfare of refugees in NSW by ensuring accessibility of health care services (p.8).
To enhance accessibility of health care services, the Refugee Health Plan recognizes complex medical needs of refugees and thus incorporate elements of culture and language as some of the factors that need consideration in the effective delivery of health care services in Auburn, NSW.
Psychological issues related to torture and trauma, preventive health care practices, reproductive health, immunization status, food security and nutrition are some of the health issues that the plan aims at resolving.
Good housing services in NSW are diminishing with time because refugees and native population are increasing gradually. According to Bannister, Blunden, and Forhmader (2004), about a third of the population who lives in NSW are experiencing housing stress (p.13). Housing stress occurs when people use over 30% of their income in paying rent or mortgages.
The shortage of housing, discrimination, and lack of reliable sources of finance are the crucial factors that predispose refugees to live in deplorable conditions (Evans & Gavarotto 2010, p.3; Afra 2008, p. 21). Refugees who have stable jobs and respectful relationship with their neighbors can easily access decent housing, while those who have no stable jobs and relate badly with the native community have difficulties in accessing better housing.
Taylor and Stanovic (2005) add that, social factors play a significant role in determining accessibility of decent housing (p.12). Hence, housing problem that refugees in NSW are facing need social solution that addresses multicultural integration. Since housing is a problem that refugees in Auburn, NSW are experiencing, Australian government in conjunction with Australia Council for Refugees have initiated programs and formulated polices that aim at addressing the issue of housing.
According to Vanstone (2005), Australian government have mobilized refugee organizations, individuals and ministry of immigration to ensure that all immigrant receive appropriate housing on their arrival to avoid problems of housing (p.13). Programs that ensure early settlement of refugees are particularly valuable in resolving housing shortage, and relocation of refugees in NSW.
Given cultural diversity of refugees and native community, discrimination has been a substantial factor that affected accessibility and affordability of decent housing in Auburn, NSW. To resolve the issue cultural discrimination in relocation of refugees, NSW Government provided a multicultural framework, which eliminated cultural barriers.
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According to NSW Government (2010), housing is a social issue that needs social solution through formulation of programs and policies that are in tandem with multicultural framework (p.22). Therefore, multicultural framework of housing is essential in enhancing accessibility of decent and affordable housing to refugees in Auburn, NSW.
Refugee students are experiencing obstacles in the course of their studies that relates with traumatic experiences their conditions. According to Apout (2003), refugee students have educational difficulties that prevent them from transitioning well from one class to another (p.1).
Given that refugee students have trauma that relate with their life experiences, their psychological conditions pose a formidable challenge to teachers. Naidoo (2009) asserts that, traumatic experiences of refugee students who originated from war-torn countries have psychological problems that prevent them from integrating into the host society and adapting to new learning curriculum (p.40).
Thus, traumatic experiences of refugee students significantly affect their academic performance relative to native students.
Since traumatic and physical experiences affect academic performance of refugee students, Australian government, in collaboration with the NSW government, has formulated programs and policies that aim at improving academic performance of students.
According to Naidoo (2010), Refugee Action Support is a program that engages community and department of education in enhancing academic performance of students (p.47). The program aims at improving academic performance of refugee students through social and psychological intervention.
Sharon (2009) argues that, community-based programs play a critical role in providing comprehensive interventions that aid refugee students to cope with their challenges (p.11). Thus, NSW government is employing community-base programs in helping students improve their academic performance.
Literature review and survey indicates that refugees in Auburn are in dire need of health, housing and education services for they constantly utilize this services daily. Even though Australian government has made considerable steps in meeting diverse needs of refugees in health, housing and education, refugees in Auburn, NSW are not yet satisfied. To overcome health issue, the NSW government prepared strategic health plan that enable healthcare system to cope with increasing number of refugees and health issues.
Regarding housing, the NSW government asserts that multicultural framework offers appropriate platform of addressing social issues that relate with accessibility of decent and affordable housing. In education, programs and policies need to focus on psychological and social aspects of both teachers and refugees students as a way of enhancing academic performance in NSW schools.
Afra, S., 2008. Availability, Affordability, Accessibility: Housing Victoria’s New Migrant and Refugee Communities. Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria Policy Discussion Paper, 4, pp. 1-28.
Apout, M., 2003. Moving Refugees into Mainstream School. Refugee Council of Australia, pp. 1-11.
Bannister, D., Blunden, H., & Forhmader, C., 2004. Report to the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing Women and the Rights to Adequate Housing in Australia. Coalition of Non-Government Workers Australia, pp.1-131.
Craig, K., 1999. Strategic Directions in Refugee Health Care in NSW. New South Wales Health, pp. 1-29.
Evans, S., & Gavarotto, R., 2010. Long Way Home? The Plight of African Refugees Obtaining Decent Housing in Western Sydney. Anglicare Social Policy and Research, pp.1-44.
Naidoo, L., 2009. A Structuration Theory Analysis of the Refugee Action Support Program in Greater Western Sydney. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 34(4), pp. 40-50.
Naidoo, L., 2010. Engaging the Refugee Community of Greater Western Sydney. Issues in Educational Research, 20(1), pp. 47-56.
NSW Government. 2010. Housing NSW: Multicultural Framework 2009-2014. Human Services Housing, pp.1-7.
Sharon, B., 2009. Learning Support Programs: Education Reform Beyond the School. Brotherhood of St Brotherhood, pp. 1-35.
Stewart, G., 2011. Policy Directive: Refugee Health Plan 2011-2016. NSW Government, pp. 1-65.
Taylor, J., & Stanovic, D., 2005. Refugee and Regional Settlement: Balancing Priorities. Brotherhood of St Laurence, pp.1-69.
Vanstone, A., 2005. Refugee and Humanitarian Issues. Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, pp.1-52.