Working towards wellbeing
It can be difficult to find work and it is sometimes said that getting a job is all about who you know.
So imagine arriving in a new country, knowing hardly anyone, not speaking the language, and not having any money.
This is the situation for many refugees in Australia and for refugee women it is harder still, as cultural barriers add to the difficulty of making a new life.
Finding employment is consistently ranked as one of the highest priorities for refugees.
It allows them to provide for their families, builds connections with the community and improves health and wellbeing.
Two of our Adelaide Law School researchers are looking at ways to smooth the path for refugee women, by developing a policy and practice guide to getting them into work.
Professor Alex Reilly and Associate Professor Joanna Howe are working with researchers in psychology and social health to review current refugee settlement programs and recommend improvements.
They are interviewing up to 40 refugee women, three times over three years, as well as service providers and employers, in a comprehensive three-year study of refugee women’s experiences in the workforce. The research has a particular focus on the barriers to successful participation in the workforce, and the relationship between employment and well-being.
Professor Reilly says research shows unemployment rates of up to 70 per cent among refugees, with many more underemployed.
“When refugee and migrant women do find work, they are more likely to do so in industries with poor pay and conditions.
“Refugee women are some of the most vulnerable in the community.”
By connecting women to opportunities and social networks, finding employment can make settling into their new community a positive experience.
Professor Reilly hopes his team’s research will lead the way for government, academic and community partnerships to develop employment initiatives for refugee women. The ultimate aim is to greatly reduce unemployment and isolation and to greatly increase a sense of belonging.
Professor Alexander Reilly
Director - Public Law & Policy Research Unit
Adelaide Law School
Faculty of the Professions