Project will support refugee wellbeing and contribute to healthy and resilient regional communities
A University of Wollongong-led study of refugee settlement in regional Australia has won a $1.1 million funding grant through the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.
The study, Settling well: A longitudinal study of refugees in regional Australia, will run in six to eight communities across three states: New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
The Department of Home Affairs, AMES Australia, Australian Red Cross Society, NSW Government, and Multicultural Australia are partners in the research which also involves Western Sydney University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Newcastle as collaborators.
The partner organisations and collaborating universities will together provide a further $2 million in cash and in-kind support towards the project over five years.
The study will provide the first longitudinal assessment of the impacts of regional settlement for humanitarian migrants and destination communities.
Regional humanitarian settlement is a key priority across all levels of government in Australia.
The Australian Government has committed to increasing refugee and humanitarian settlement in regional areas. The study will improve the evidence to support effective regional settlement planning and outcomes. It involves collaboration between academia, government and the community sector – thus bringing together research, policy and application.
Project leader Associate Professor Natascha Klocker is a social and cultural geographer from UOW’s School of Geography and Sustainable Communities and Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS). Her research explores humanitarian migrants’ experiences in regional Australia.
“The researchers and partner organisations have a shared goal of supporting the wellbeing of humanitarian migrants and contributing to healthy and resilient regional communities,” she said.
“We will conduct a rigorous investigation of regional settlement trends and experiences and evaluate the effectiveness of different regional settlement approaches. We will also document the valuable contributions that humanitarian migrants make to regional Australia.
“Our study will generate new knowledge of the opportunities and challenges for sustainable regional settlement of humanitarian migrants, and novel insights into the long-term implications of regional settlement, both for humanitarian migrants themselves and for destination communities.”
One of the outcomes of the project will be to provide enhanced decision-making capacity for communities, organisations supporting humanitarian migrants and governments.
“Our study will provide a robust evidence base from which to plan for settlement policies and programs that support humanitarian migrants’ wellbeing while also meeting the population and economic needs of regional Australia,” Associate Professor Klocker said.
Linkage Projects promote research partnerships between researchers, business, industry, community organisations and other publicly funded research agencies. The grant was announced by the Minister for Education Dan Tehan.
“These research projects are part of our Government’s plan to invest in ideas and innovation in areas of national interest to help power Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” Mr Tehan said.
“By bringing together higher education and industry, these research projects will support universities to produce job-ready graduates for their local industries and communities.”