The Barriers and Obstacles Faced by Sudanese Youth in Melbourne

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Sudan is the largest country in Africa, a horn of Africa nation of estimated population of 40 million people. The country gained independence from British on January 1956. The new country was then plunged into a series of wars. The root cause was both political and religious, Islamic government armies from the north engaged against Christian Pastoralists of rebel South Sudan. The first civil war broke out in 1955, five months before Independence, since then Sudan has never been stable. The conflicts dragged on for 50 years. Sudanese people did not only suffer when they were in Sudan. The conditions within refugee camps in Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Ethiopia are inadequate and dangerous, thus rape, torture and trauma are common experience of Sudanese refugees. Many of these Sudanese young people had experienced great trauma before arrival in Australia. Allotey (2003) state that it is estimated that of the approximately 12,000 people migrated to Australia annually as part of the refugee and special Humanitarian intake about 40 per cent are children and young people, many of these young people have suffered from severe hardship, they have had their sense of safety violated, suffered physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and exploitation, some have been forced to fight as a child soldiers and most have witness torture or been tortured themselves. Reiner (2010) agree with that many have experience displacement from one or communities and homes, disrupted schooling and separation from close family and friends, they have watched their fathers, brothers and Uncles been killed or have seen them disappear, many watched as their mothers, sisters, aunts were tortured and rape. I will evaluate history needs of this cohort and also will focus on the settlement experience. The review will highlight the gaps in the current research and demonstrate that further research is necessary to understand the impact and suffering of this cohort.

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Language Proficiency

Hebbani el at (2012) state that lack of English language proficiency among the Sudanese youth also hindered their communication with and adaptation into the mainstream Australian society. Abur (2016) point out that English language is one of the key issues facing Sudanese refugees in their settlement, preventing the settler from being able to participate in Australia life. Dandy (2015) Explains English proficiency and experiences of discrimination also affect refugees sense of belonging to and engagement in the community.

Heally (2000) explained that refuges would not participate effectively into Australian life unless they prove competent in English that would equip them better. Heally (2000) found that humanitarian entrants have not been able to plan for settlement in Australia. Dandy (2015) point out that lack of English proficiency results inability to participate in the broader community which will result in fewer opportunities and ability to develop network. Hatoss (2012) State refugees who were visibly different from the Australia norm were the most common victims of racism and discrimination. Past research (Kim,2010) has found overwhelming evidence that without English language proficiency refugees face significant barriers to economic and social success.


Abur (2016) State that employment is a central part of supporting refugee communities to settle better in a new environment, access to employment is important for successful settlement. DIAC (2012) Explains refugees struggle with many social issues that affect their ability to obtain employment.

FECCA (2013) argue that people from culturally and Linguistically diverse background face higher levels of unemployment and grater barriers to employment than the general population, causing social and economic stresses among community groups and families. Rynderman (2014) explained that absence of employment place significant pressure on the refugees copying mechanism combined with limited formal and informal support which led to significant hardships. Colic-Peisker & Tilbury (2014) state that refugees have fewer social network connections which are known to assist in positive employment outcomes. Colic-Peisker & Tilbury (2014) Suggest that discrimination based on visible difference in the form of name language ability, accent, appearance and religious customs is a widespread problem in the Australia labour market and poses some major barriers on satisfactory employment outcomes for refugees. Previous research (Kim 2012) examine 42 refugees from Somalia found that lack of employment opportunities meant refugees were completely on a small living allowance provided by government.

War and Trauma

In the war both adults and young people suffer loss, trauma, relocation, illness and injury. Refugee Council of Australia (2011) state that significant proportion of refugees have experienced severe trauma. Ager (1999) argue that children and adolescent refugees are members of civilian populations that have been targeted by military actions seeking to create fear and social instability.

Ager (1999) state that adolescents who flee their homes as refugees face a broad range of challenges in their development and survival; including separation and loss, which led to the loss of families’ members; disruption of socialisation- forced migration always disrupts not only familial bases of socialisation through such structures as schools, churches, shared workplaces and peer groups. Raundalen et al (1991) state that refugees are vulnerable to trauma experience and violence which cannot be really assimilated. Mohlen et al (2005) point out that children living in a war zones are at a high risk of developing types of psychopathology, predominantly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Past research of Latin America adolescent revealed the effects of trauma on refugees Ager (1999). Ager (1999) identified the factors impacting refugee’s mental health as unresolved grief and loss, trauma and displacement of their cultural. Previous research (Schweitzer et al.2011) found that witnessing traumatic events is a common pre-migration experience for people from refugee background. Schweitzer et al. (2011) argue that successful settlement of refugees requires government bodies and service providers respond effectively to mental health needs of newly arrived people


Ager (1999) point out that prior to settlement many children have issues of profound educational disruption because of their lives in the interim refugee camps. Ager notes that in many cases Sudanese young people have not had any access to education while in camps. Ager explains those children who have the opportunity for education there is unequal access to schooling in refugee camps Mathew (2008) explains education in general facilitate intellectual and prosomal development, associated with income, occupation and community integration. Past study indicated that experience in both primary and secondary colleges showed that even though these young people receive training in language in school the scars of interrupted study in refugee camps remain unhealed (Ager 1999). Mathew (2008) argue that Australia school are ill-equipped to provide effective English as a second language teaching and support to refugee. Mathew point out that this cohort of refugees mainly from Africa and Middle east are struggling.

Housing and Accommodation

Reiner (2010) State that without appropriate affordable housing refugees will remain on the margin of Australia society. Foley & Beer (2003) explained that finding accommodation that will satisfy the needs of refugees for safety, security, comfort and community is essential for their successful integration to Australia society. Past research (Junankar et al. 1993 cited in Foley & Beer 2003) found that affordability was a major obstacle to housing access for newly arrived refugees, particularly those who arrive without assets were vulnerable to housing stress. Similar results have been found in studies investigating the housing experience by the Indochinese refugees as they access housing. Milne (1979) found that poor English language skills and unfamiliarity with housing and legal system left them open to exploitation by landlord’, also prevented some refugees in need accessing public housing. Dickman (1995 cited in Foley & Beer 2003) pointed out both short and medium-term housing was difficult for refugee to access. The author also argue that lack of public housing led many refugees being inappropriately housed in emergency accommodation or forced into private rental market which could cause financial strain for many families. The important point to understand is that Sudanese refugee have suffer in their home country and in refugee camps. The strength of Waxman (1998) have recognised that settlement adjustment was difficult without adequate accommodation and because many refugees had previously abandoned their family homes and possession, obtaining appropriate housing would be their first steps in reaching normalcy. The Refugee Council of Australia (2000) state that securing accommodation is one of the major problems confronting refugees and those who seeking to assist them. Previous research also found access to housing was hinder by poor English language skills and lack of understanding of Australia housing system amongst refugees.

Cultural Adjustment

Law and culture in Sudan is completely different from that in Australia so one the issues facing them in their settlement is lack of understanding of Australia laws and culture. Burnett (1998) state that cultural factors do influence the settlement process. Eisenbruch (1998) suggests that uprooted children may experience much grief both of their personal loss and the loss of their culture. The author argue that this personal and cultural bereavement can be an important factor in their adjustment and resettlement. Lee et al. (2000) point out that unless adolescent from refugee families develop effective coping response, they are likely to feel inadequate in dealing with the external world. Wittkower and Fried (2000) explained that refugee children hold onto their heritage, they are likely to experience criticism and alienation from the dominant society. Abur (2012) state that experience of a new culture, new system and lack of language acquisition are impeding refugee families and young youth from resettlement. Burnett (1998) agree that cultural factors do influence the settlement process.

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