Melbourne’s African refugees between identity and integration: Public housing as an incubator

Public housing as an incubator

Malaysian Theatre
Glyn Davis Building
Parkville Campus, University of Melbourne

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  • Lecture

Australia has a consistent history of refugee resettlement, despite the current controversies and political discourse, some 900,000 refugees have been resettled since 1947.

Refugees from the Horn of Africa and Sudan however, are relative newcomers arriving only since the 1990s. The majority of these migrants fled conflict and political instability in their homeland and more than half have found a new home in Melbourne and Sydney.

For people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, positive interaction with members of the host community is integral to their sense of belonging and social cohesion. Many newcomers face significant challenges during the process of adapting to the lifestyle of their new home. These processes are particularly complex in multicultural but often ghettoized public housing estates.

Integration is often a key goal for migrants and refugees, and the process requires newcomers to “adapt to the lifestyle of the host society without having to lose one’s own cultural identity”. Integration also implies that they become part of the social, institutional and cultural fabric of the society. Therefore, in conjunction with assimilation to the host country, integration involves engagement in an equitable society that values a diverse heritage.

This lecture presents the preliminary outcomes from the project “A socio-economic exploration of Melbourne’s African migrants: Public housing as an incubator” by the Economic and Social Participation Research Initiative “ESPRIt Hallmark”, University of Melbourne. The research project is conducted by the multidisciplinary team Dr Sandra Carrasco, Dr Ashleigh Haw, Dr Andrea Cook and Dr Majdi Faleh.

This presentation will also show the outcomes from an art workshop with the community and explained by the local Somali artist Mrs Muhubo Suleiman. The main topic is the re-construction of a sense of home and community connecting their past and current housing experiences.