The mental health of former refugees in regional Australia: a qualitative study
Smith, LA and Reynish, TD and Hoang, Ha and Mond, JM and Hannah, C and McLeod, K and Auckland, SRJ and Slewa Younan, S, The mental health of former refugees in regional Australia: a qualitative study, Australian Journal of Rural Health, 27, (5) pp. 459-462. ISSN 1440-1584 (2019) [Refereed Article]
Objective:To examine the resettlement experiences of former refugees living in regional Australia, focusing on mental health and mental health and support services, including barriers to access.
Design: A phenomenological approach utilising a combination of six qualitative, semi‐structured, face‐to‐face focus groups (n = 24) and seven individual interviews. Data were analysed thematically using NVivo 10 software.
Setting: Launceston, Tasmania.
Participants: Adult and youth former refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma,
Sierra Leone, Sudan and Iran, and essential service providers, residing in Launceston.
Main outcome measures: Participants were asked about experiences of resettlement
and mental health.
Results: Participants reported that their mental health had improved since resettlement; however, major stressors impacted mental health and resettlement included employment and housing access and mastering the English language. Past experiences
continued to impact current functioning, with trauma commonly experienced intergenerationally through parenting and attachment and ongoing trauma and feelings of
guilt and responsibility experienced with families left behind. Participants noted barriers to accessing services: (a) Language difficulties including lack of interpreters;
and (b) lack of culturally sensitive and trauma‐informed practices. Discrimination was
experienced through the inconsistent provision of interpreters and lack of due consideration of cultural and religious differences. The use of children as interpreters enhanced several risk including miscommunication of medical information, exposure to
age‐inappropriate information, and the resulting increased risk of trauma for the child.
Conclusion: Culturally sensitive, trauma‐informed and discrimination‐free practices
should be employed across services, where Western‐views surrounding this medical model are not imposed, cultural differences are respected, and timely access to