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Individuals of refugee background resettled in regional and rural Australia: A systematic review of mental health research


Hawkes, C and Norris, K and Joyce, J and Paton, D, Individuals of refugee background resettled in regional and rural Australia: A systematic review of mental health research, Australian Journal of Rural Health pp. 1-15. ISSN 1038-5282 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2021 National Rural Health Alliance Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/ajr.12785


Introduction:The Australian Government aims to increase the number of individuals on humanitarian resettlement visas allocated to regional locations to 50% by the year 2022. A significant issue with this, given the substantive body of research identifying that refugee populations face chronic mental health concerns during resettlement, is the lack of health-related research focusing on the resettlement of individuals of refugee background to rural and regional locations in Australia, especially in the area of mental health.

Objective: To provide a foundation for rectifying this omission, this review is the first to synthesise mental health research focusing on individuals of refugee background specifically resettled to rural and regional locations in Australia.

Design: The review was conducted in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline. Findings were synthesised using thematic analytic techniques.

Findings: 14 relevant studies (3 quantitative, one mixed-method, 10 qualitative) were identified. Findings indicated that individuals of refugee background resettled in rural and regional Australia not only experienced higher levels of psychological distress than the general population but also had significant difficulty and limited options when accessing mental health services. Furthermore, resettlement in rural and regional locations increased the risk of experiencing many interrelated factors associated with adverse mental health outcomes and distress, including very limited access to support services, with the latter being identified as vital for well-being.

Conclusion: This review highlights the disparity between the Australian Government‘s policies and plans regarding regional resettlement, what is happening on the ground, and identifies key gaps in research and practice which must be addressed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australia, mental health, refugee, resettlement review, rural
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Clinical psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Mental health services
UTAS Author:Norris, K (Professor Kimberley Norris)
ID Code:147232
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-10-20
Last Modified:2021-11-10

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