1. Cross-Cultural Engagement
This research found that young migrants were deeply appreciative of the social activities organised by the local government agencies that bring multicultural youth together and foster intercultural learning and exchange. Programs aimed at sustaining cross-cultural engagement and social cohesion need more public support, funding and policy focus. The research revealed that young people from Pacific island, African and Arabic backgrounds had a clear and expressed desire to engage with young people from other cultural backgrounds. Young people are in a position to both transform the capacity of future generations around cross-cultural engagement, and positively influence attitudes and beliefs amongst older generations of migrant Australians. Developing new programs, providing funding and maintaining policy focus on this area of cross-cultural engagement would contribute to strengthening social cohesion in the Australian community now and in the future.
2. Inclusive School Environment
Creating a culturally sensitive school environment needs to be maintained as a policy priority for the state government. This study found that while young people generally tended to have good relations with their teachers and other school staff, they still felt a constant need to ‘prove themselves’ in an environment external to schools. They felt that in this broader environment, ‘Australian’ values and ways of learning were likely to be prioritised and their individual needs were – often unintentionally - suppressed. It is recommended that State and Federal governments encourage, support and fund culturally sensitive programs, initiatives and events to create a more inclusive and supportive school environment for young people of diverse backgrounds.
3. Family-Focused Approach
Some project participants reported having problems gaining support or understanding from their parents for their personal and community network involvements. It was of particular concern to African youth and this was related to activities which did not have any measurable educational outcomes. The type of relationships that young people have with their parents and siblings is a critical factor to the level and frequency of their participation and involvement in social groups. These relationships also impact their strategies of involvement in social networks. Service providers are encouraged to ensure that a culturally specific and family-focused service delivery approach is taken when engaging with young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
4. Locality and Service Provision
Distance from services constitutes the bulk of reported reasons for young people’s lack of involvement in different social and community programs. This is often amplified by the lack of information about services. Qualitative data gathered as part of this project show that location of services is the most commonly mentioned barrier to participation in the programs of service providers. Quantitative research findings, on the other hand, reveal that the most important barrier to participation is time constraint. Young people tend to be more involved in groups and programs nearby their places of residence. Government and service providers need to incorporate an awareness of a locality issues into the provision of programs for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.