Protecting refugees who have left their homes because of armed conflicts and abuses is among challenges facing the world. Australia, being among the international community members, has a responsibility of taking care of these refugees until the situation in their country is resolved.
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For each 1000 inhabitant, Australia has about 1.1 refugees; this is overwhelming when it is compared to the United States with 6.2, Germany with 7, Syria with 75.5, UK with 8.4, Canada with 17.9 and Jordan with 84.4. Australia has major concerns on how it offers basic services to its refugees; this includes insecurity in housing and economic exclusion, complex situation in the provision of rental houses, among others.
This issue requires attention because refugees, as everyone else need safety, security and an environment that gives them determination. Also, as other refugees, refugees in Australia require special care because of the displacement, trauma and health issues they go through as they seek for refuge (Kelaher and Manderson, 2000).
There is a need for them to be close to community programs and support services that will help them live a normal life. Auburn is a location in Australia, with the majority of its inhabitants being refugees; this study will explore how services are offered to these immigrants in Auburn.
Since the early 1940s, Australia has had a unique experience with more than five million people having settled in the country from other countries. Demographic research in Australia indicated that more than ninety percent of its population can trace their original countries with a minor exception of close to two percent, which is made up of Torres Strait islanders and Aborigines (Castles, 1992, p. 549).
According to Castles’ survey in 1992, immigration has remained a central point of concern for many leaders in Australia, and this is mainly attributed to the need for nation building and planning. He further noted that one out of five people in Australia is an immigrant with cities like Sydney and Melbourne being highly affected. As a result, Australia has become one of the most diverse countries in terms of cultural diversity (Murphy, 2011).
It embraces a myriad of identities from around the world including America, Asia and Africa. The question, which researchers have always tried to answer is the major cause of influx of people to Australia and how this movement impacts the country’s development. Are there any challenges encountered by service provides and immigrants in Australia?
According to Waxman, communication is considered as a major challenge for immigrants from non-English speaking nations. Commonly affected people are usually from Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia who mainly settled in Sydney (Waxman, 1998, p. 761).
His study further identified Afghans to have the highest level of English proficiency, a factor attributed to their longest period of time spent in the country as compared to their counterparts from Iraq and Bosnia. Language is known as a key communication tool which undermines many immigrants in Australia.
For those who are not proficient in the language, access to important information like health becomes a major problem. This is seen as a major challenge that faces new immigrants from the three mentioned countries.
Besides difficulties in accessing essential services, immigrants in Sydney and other cities in the country fit in the society with a lot of difficulties. With a considerable population of Australia speaking English, immigrants view it as an interaction barrier as a result of not being able to communicate with the host country (Dunn & Forrest, 2008, p. 98).
Many immigrants families get isolated from host communities, an observation which some analysts view as an obstacle towards social integration. The government together with the Refugee Resettlement Working Group works together in helping immigrants to achieve a valuable level of English proficiency during early days of settlement in the country.
Nevertheless, the program is faced with a wide range of challenges which have been addressed to ensure that tuition classes become a major tool in improving English proficiency among immigrants.
Similarly, the welfare of immigrants receives significant attention with the government setting up programs that are aimed at improving the resettlement of immigrants.
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The federal Government’s On-Arrival-Accommodation (OAA) in Auburn promotes the resettlement services for the immigrants contributing to a higher concentration of Iraqis and Bosnians in the region (Khoo, 1994, p. 68). On the other hand, the concentration of Afghans in Auburn has augmented by Community Refugee Settlement Scheme, which facilitates the resettlement of refugees and immigrants from Afghanistan.
With the concentration of immigrants in many Australian cities, unemployment has become a major challenge with most of the immigrants being rendered jobless. Although lack of proficiency in English contributes to this case, it is important to note that other factors hinder immigrants from securing jobs in Australia (Dunn, Kamp, Shaw, Forrest & Paradise, 2010, p. 20).
These factors include but not limited to inadequate skills, immigrants’ state of health and inability of the host country to recognize their qualifications. Poor English proficiency also makes immigrants to be more vulnerable to health dangers like mental illness and accidents. This is due to lack of awareness communicated through English.
To deal with the problem of English proficiency, flexible tuition programs are necessary to allow immigrants to complete their classes (Dunn, Kamp, Shaw, Forrest & Paradise, 2010, p. 22).
The need for sensitivity towards learning difficulties is important in addressing problems encountered by immigrants during tuition sessions. Additionally, the role played by media cannot be ignored; it should be considered as a teaching tool since most people have access to radios and television sets with almost every media program being aired in English (McMaster, 2001, p. 46).
From this survey, cultural diversity was one of the major problems facing immigrants and service providers in Australia. While the country is considered to have the highest number of immigrants in the region, there are concerns over the impact of cultural diversity and the perception of both the indigenous and immigrants (Dunn & Ip, 2008, p. 82).
Dunn and friends note that multicultural policies have played a major role in promoting cultural pluralism. These policies mainly formulated by the federal government have the objective of closing the gap between immigrants and native Australian inhabitants. It is clear that culture encompasses a wide range of social identity parameters like language and among others which have to be considered to achieve this.
Additionally, many Islamic immigrants in Australia experience religious conflicts where they are discriminated by some host communities because of the religious grounds. The use of hijab and headscarves among Muslim has not been achieved well by some indigenous Australians (Dunn, 2009. P. 31).
This leaves the government with the task of promoting cultural diversity among different communities. The politics of gender also affects Australian immigrants with several debates on minor issues like freedom of women from oppression some of which is perpetuated by religious beliefs.
Moreover, a lot of research has concentrated on the challenges encountered by the government and other services providers when dealing with immigrants, which has remained a matter for national concern. This shaped several societal and economic structures with the planners being forced to consider other approaches that would sufficiently address the issue.
Provision of housing services tops the list with many service providers finding to be an uphill task base on high economic standard and inflation rates. Under The Federal Government, On-Arrival –Accommodation (OAA) and other immigrants are identified for the purpose of availing possible accommodation services.
The UNHCR notes that 747 000 refugees were in need of accommodation in the year 2010, yet the resettlement states offer only 79000 chances every year (Waxman, 1998, p. 762). It therefore, implies that the problem of housing is a major one since the majority of service providers are unable to effectively deal with it.
Besides housing services, access to land is a major challenge to non-indigenous people in Australia with the natives assuming the right of land ownership. Unlike other services like medication and education, which could be provided by other groups in conjunction with the government, land ownership and significantly affects millions of immigrants in the county (Murray & Skull, 2005, p. 26).
In addressing the issue of gender balance, mobilization of women has highly be encouraged in order to allow women to have access to various services like medication through organized groups. Nevertheless, the capacity of the government to finance affordability of urban infrastructure has continuously deteriorated because of the overwhelming number of entrants from other nations.
The government is, therefore, unable to finance basic needs to all immigrants, an issue viewed to be chromic in the country. High food prices unaffordable medical care and housing characterize the lives of millions of immigrants in the country (Khoo, 1994, p. 68).
As a result of high population emanating from the influx of immigrants, nutrition has become a major problem in Australia (McMaster, 2001, p.9). This is due to limited resources available in the country against the swelling population caused by immigrants. As a result, nutritionists have raised an alarm to avoid humanitarian crisis which may occur in the future.
There are services, being provided by dieticians to prevent nutritional problems in Australia. Some of these services include advocacy at local as well as national level in order to create public awareness; policy making is also essential in ensuring that matters regarding nutrition are handled adequately by leaders.
A major challenge towards the success of these strategies has been finances and lack of advocacy (Booth & Smith, 2001, p. 150). The current study will look at the issues facing refugees as they seek essential services, which are essential for their well being
This research utilized interview as a method of collecting data. Interviewing is a method of collecting data from human beings by asking them questions for which they answer verbally. It is a systematized way of talking and listening to people in order to get information regarding a particular topic or phenomena.
In interviews, the respondent provides the primary data for the study and the views of the researcher are not important as most of the information comes from the respondent. The respondents are able to give their conceptualizations and interpretations regarding the topic under the study.
Reasons for using interviews
Interviews allow for probing, follow up, and it is possible to get in depth information on a topic. They also have many disadvantages, which include consumption of time and very expensive administration. They cannot be used with a larger number of people as they are very taxing and takes a lot of time to complete.
The chances of the interviewer bias are high especially in closed-ended interviews. Analysis of data may take a lot of time; especially data from open ended interviews and respondents may not remember important information or may lack self awareness.
In this study, the sample of the study will be the immigrants who live in the Auburn LGA. These will be the interviewees to get the data required to carry out this study. However, the interview will take place in three locations within the Auburn LGA.
These areas are the Auburn council, people from two different organizations, which offer different services to the immigrants. This approach is employed so as to determine the success level of the various groups providing services to the Auburn LGA.
According to research ethics, the research is not supposed to reveal the identity of the participants, therefore, throughout this study, utmost confidentiality of the participants will be ensured. All information gathered during this study will also be treated with a lot of confidentiality. No names or any other information that can be used for identification will appear on any of the materials that will be used during the interview.
Each respondent will be given an identification number that will be used to record the information. They will however be destroyed after they have been transcribed and analyzed to ensure that nobody else apart from the researcher accesses the information in them. The information from the interviews will be emailed to the organizations in Auburn from where they will used for research purposes only.
Because of the differences between participants with different backgrounds, researchers faced many difficulties during the survey period. On the other hand, these differences allowed the researcher to gain new experiences and more information about these positions. The researcher could face some of these issues immediately, because this survey was the researcher’s first in Australia.
The first issue was that some of those surveyed feared answering the survey questions because of previous experiences in their own countries. People of some nationalities, such as the Sudanese, were not enthusiastic or interested in this study and thought all foreign people were gypsies.
The second issue is that some people demanded money to answer this survey. Some people thought that Macquarie University supported this survey and paid the researcher too much money. The surprising thing was that this happened with some highly educated people. There was another issue concerning the survey structure. Some participants noted that the information and consent form did not mention the date of study.
Some people asked to be excused from participation, while others agreed to answer the questions. Still other respondents posed logical questions; how can we get a copy of the results of this study if we will graduate at the end of this semester and our university e-mail account will be deactivated upon graduation?
In addition, the application did not ask for the alternative e-mail. Finally, some participants spent a long time filling out this survey, while others refused to answer some important questions. This made the researchers to spend much time in the collection of information and information collected was not comprehensive because some questions were left unanswered.
There are many different services in the Auburn LGA that are provided by different organizations and the Auburn council. These services includes social events, daycare, mother’s group, childcare services, youth programs and activities, park and leisure, library, sporting activities, festivals and others.
Are these services sufficient, or is some missing something? What are the perspectives of the several of the various service providers, and how well do they satisfy the residents’ needs?
Three interviews covering three different aspects of the organizations and the council that cover different age groups. These interviews focused on the services provided, services missing, necessary services for families, and other points. All these organizations provide services to residents of Auburn free of charge. These include services for children, young people, and adults.
The Auburn Youth centre focuses on the services for those between 12 and 24 years of age, and all provides services to both males and females.
At a time, in which some organizations (Auburn Youth Centre) are generous and have substantial funds provided by the government, the council of Auburn complaints that it has been inadequately supported by some of the organizations. Specifically, it was pointed out that one of the organizations refused to participate in three projects and proposals that other centres had supported generously.
Furthermore, organizations agreed on the lack of enough housing services and activities for older adults. Others cite the lack of financial support and grants, language classes, and for both adults and young people. The majority of workers in these organizations are volunteers, while I work part-time.
Also, in view of the organizations, the available services are provided to individuals of a single culture, and the government does not view all the organizations similarly. Some of these agencies try to overcome some of these difficulties by providing financial resources indirectly through voluntary contributions or leasing some halls, if possible, for marriages, parties, and festivals of their own.
However, some individual see a conflict between the users and of these services and the centre’s constituency. These conflicts are not due to cultural or ethnic differences, but because of religion and some sometimes because of politics, as sometimes happen between the Sudanese and individuals belonging to the state of New South Sudan.
In general, almost everyone expresses full satisfaction with the services provided to the residents of Auburn. At the same time, there are shortcomings in some of the services provided, such as health care. Also, some people hope that space will be provided for organizations so that they can offer their services and promote their activities in an appropriate environment.
During the interview with the Director Of Development Department and Cultural Diversity of Auburn Council, she pointed to the council’s role in providing the best services to the community either directly or through many organizations to all residents in Auburn LGA, a fair and equitable represents the interests of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) residents of the Auburn LGA by identifying and prioritizing community needs and facilitating the development of projects, and strategies to address those needs.
And to work in partnership with community groups, local service providers, and governments departments to facilitate, promote, and support CALD community initiatives.
Despite the difficulties faced by the residents, which include access to or use of services due to lack of awareness; not trusting or fearing government organizations; stigmatization; work, training, and educational commitments; English skills; and lack of transport. In addition, she pointed out that community development aims to improve the social well-being of residents and build stronger and sustainable communities.
By developing stronger links and connections between communities and assisting members of communities in participating in community life and activities, the council encourages people to work together to improve the quality of their lives and the communities in which they live.
On the other hand, she indicated that some of the associations and organizations do not get enough support, while others have received generous amounts from the council.
Whether an applicant is successful for a grant depends on the quality of its proposal; meeting the eligibility criteria; whether and how the proposed project aims to meet an identified need in the community; and demonstrate outcomes to the specific and the broader community.
Admittedly, some organizations are more established and have more resources, skills, and expertise in preparing and submitting a submission proposal than other organizations.
The council encourages representatives from all organizations to utilize the support of the community development team and the community project officer, and to attend the various training and information sessions when a grant is available.
According to the council, attending of training and information sessions will equip organizations with skills on how to prepare submission proposals and what to include in the proposals for them to be more legible for grants.
The council also admits that, there are barriers which hinder rapid developments among the Auburn LGA, and some of these barriers include unequal distribution of services due to gaps in funding of these services, discrimination in offering housing facilities and lack of skills by residents of Auburn LGA.
According to the council, organizations should come up with projects that will help Auburn LGA residents to develop skills that will enable them obtain employment opportunities (Gibson, McAllister, and Swenson, 2002). This will empower Auburn LGA residents economically.
Organizations should also come up with projects that would promote interactions among the Auburn LGA residents in order eliminate discrimination and encourage acceptance and togetherness; such projects include games. Projects such as schools and health care centers should be given first priority for the well being of Auburn LGA residents (Refugee Council of Australia, 2007).
The council also advices organizations to invest in awareness projects; residents should be sensitized on their rights as Auburn residents and their role in the development of Auburn LGA.
A number of funding grants are available for community groups and organizations. The council offers assistance to all groups in identifying funding and providing training, advice, and guidance for preparing funding submissions. The council also administers grants programs, including Council Community Grants, the Auburn CDSE Scheme, and Community Builders.
Survey on residents of Auburn LGA
|services||Daily||Once a week||Once fortnight||Monthly||Rarely||Never|
|Youth programs & activities||1||4||2||3||7||10|
|Park and leisure||4||8||4||7||9||1|
|Venues and facilities||3||10||1||7||6||5|
The table above shows how the participants’ patronized services, day care and services appear to attract participant use daily while others services had their frequency varying.
Discussion and Analysis
As shown in the table below, most of the people surveyed are of age group 36-45 years as indicated by the high percentage of 42.5, followed by those of age group 25-35 with 35% which attend finally the under 25 people are few with17. 5%.
Among the participants of the interview, there was only one female and 39 male. This translates to 97% of the participants being males and 3% being females. This shows that most female refugees are left at home taking care of children as the men seek for something to sustain families.
This Does Not Represent a Real Population
Current Marital Status
The survey conducted asked about the marital status. According to this survey, most of the participants were married giving 65% of the total number, while the unmarried were 35%. It appears that most of the participant were not separated, windowed, divorced or members of an unmarried. This shows that families of these refugees are growing and better services need to be put in place to cater for their needs.
Evaluation of the services provided to the immigrants in Auburn
Based on the survey with people belonging to different associations and organizations in the Auburn LGA, there are different views of the services provided to residents and organizations of the council of Auburn. In general, participants agreed that essential services in Auburn LGA was inadequate compared to other areas; there are few hospitals, schools and colleges for Auburn LGA residents.
The primary reason for people moving to the area was the services available to residents, including social services, restaurants and food, shopping, and places of worship. These services are easy to access in this region, compared to other parts of Sydney, and are provided free of charge to residents.
However, a significant number of respondents, especially Muslims, do find the religious facilities and places of worship inadequate. However, there is the lack of quality for some specific services. For example, many people believe that childcare services and physical therapy are the most important health-care needs.
Moreover, there is a clear lack of parking and language classes, and there have been an increase in noise and crime. The surveys reveal that some of the difficulties they have are due to lack of some of these critical facilities, and thus they are exposed to the hazards and the social problems within the Auburn LGA.
According to the participants, majority of the services are repetitions of special services such as sports, family childcare, social events, shopping, and food, this means that there are some vital services missing while others are available in excess.
Facilities such as schools, colleges and hospitals are vital; children born by these refugees need education so that they can equip themselves with knowledge and skills, which can help them, find a job. This will help them have a source of livelihood and live better live.
Participants between 25-35 years complain of discrimination in offering housing services, the discrimination is mostly done to black African refugees; this is because of the scarcity of housing facilities in Auburn. Refugees find it difficult to adapt in the new community because they face both economic and housing exclusion.
Some of them have skills which they acquired from their countries, but securing employment is a problem because of requirement for them to give their Identification (Ley and Murphy, 200, p.193).
The Australian government has to find a way to assist this people to find the right documents that will help them get a job in Australia. Those who have no formal skills should be allowed access training facilities to gain knowledge and skills, which can help them secure a job and earn a living.
The Australian government together with organizations and local government should ensure that refugees are not discriminated in housing services; they should undertake cultural training awareness to house agents, and train refugees on their rights and responsibilities as tenants.
It is evident that immigration services in Australia face countless challenges due to the ever increasing number of immigrants. Ranging from cultural difference to policy barriers, many immigrants find it hard to access basic services like food, medication and financial support.
There is every need for the government to formulate and implement policies to deal with regulation entry of people and have programs aimed at sustaining existing immigrants. Involvement of other non-governmental organizations and the UN is also important in assuming a collective responsibility to serving Australian immigrants.
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