Youth Participants’ Profiles
A survey entitled ‘Social Networks, Belonging and Active Citizenship among Migrant Youth in Australia’ was conducted among 484 young people aged 15 to 23, in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia. The survey was administered among three relatively evenly distributed participant groups from African, Pacific Island and Arabic-speaking backgrounds. There was also a relatively even distribution across the two cities: 252 youth from Melbourne participated in the survey (52.1%) as opposed to 232 youth from Brisbane (47.9%). The characteristics of the three cultural groups are described below:
African youth: For the African youth surveyed, the most common country of birth was Sudan (46%), followed by Ethiopia (14.3%) and Kenya (6.6%). These three leading countries are all located in the East or the Horn of Africa. 74.9% of African respondents were Christian, while 15% were Muslim. Africans were most likely of all three participant groups to be born overseas or lived in the country for less than five years.
Pacific Islander youth: Among Pacific Island young people, the leading recorded country of birth was New Zealand (42.4%), followed by Australia (40.4%) and Samoa (9.8%). The majority of Pacific Island respondents were Christian (94.7%). Pacific Island young people were most likely of those born overseas to have lived in Australia for more than ten years (53.2%).
Arabic-speaking background youth: For this group, Australia was the most common country of birth (50.6%), followed by Iraq (22.9%) and Lebanon (6.6%). It is worth noting that 4.8% of the Arabic-speaking group were born in Sudan and were included in the Arabic-speaking sample following their self-reported ‘cultural’ affiliation with Arabic language. A majority (64.5%) of the Arabic-speaking youth were Muslim, while 32.5% were Christian. Brisbane and Melbourne samples have differed in regards to religious compositions, with Brisbane sample being predominantly Muslim (91.3%) while in Melbourne 37.8% of Arabic-speakers have been Muslim and 56.7% Christian.
Qualitative approach – interviews and focus groups
Qualitative data was elicited through semi-structured interviews and focus groups across Melbourne and Brisbane. When it was possible and appropriate, interviews were conducted by research assistants of the same ethnic backgrounds (i.e. peer/insider interviewing).
Interview and focus group schedules were designed to further investigate and expand upon the themes explored in the surveys. Broadly stated, this included questions and themes pertaining to the type and extent of network involvement (formal and informal), reasons for participation, impact of network participation for sense of belonging, social and practical barriers to network participation, perceived and measurable outcomes of network engagement, intergeneration and intra-ethnic community issues, current issues facing refugee and migrant youth, youth leadership initiatives.
In total, fifty-seven interviews were conducted in Melbourne and forty-six in Brisbane. Across both sites, there was a fairly even distribution across each participant group. In both states, approximately thirty individuals from all three participant groups joined focus groups as a part of the Young Leaders Forum. The characteristics of each of the three groups are described below:
African: Across Melbourne and Brisbane, African participants (like other survey respondents) were relatively recent arrivals to Australia. In Brisbane, the majority of participants were Sudanese, Ethiopian and Eritrean. These nationalities were also represented in Melbourne, alongside a few young people from Rwanda. Other represented nationalities included: Burundian, Liberian, Somali, Congolese, Ugandan, and Sierra Leonean. In both cities, there were more females than males. Additionally, in Brisbane the average age of respondents was higher (approximately 16-18 years) than Melbourne (approximately 15-16 years). However, focus group participants’ age in Melbourne was slightly higher than interviewees’. Focus group participants in Brisbane were approximately the same age as interviewees.
Pacific Islands: Across Melbourne and Brisbane, the majority of Pacific Island participants were from Samoan, Tongan and New Zealander backgrounds. Several interviewees also reported being half Samoan, half Tongan and a few indicated being half Australian. Many of those who reported being ‘born overseas’, were born in New Zealand, but have parents from other countries in the Pacific. In both Melbourne and Brisbane, more than half of respondents were female. Melbourne participants were typically younger than those in Brisbane.
Arabic-speaking youth: Interview and focus group participants in Melbourne and Brisbane were predominantly of Iraqi and Lebanese backgrounds. However, in Brisbane there were several interviewees from Egypt and of mixed backgrounds. In Melbourne, there were a couple of Palestinian participants. Brisbane had a relatively older cohort with the majority of participants from the 18-22 years age range. Melbourne sample was evenly divided between older participants (20 year of age and older), predominantly girls, and younger participants (15-18 years of age), where there were more boys than girls. For interpretation of the results it is important to note that all but two Brisbane participants were Muslims, while in Melbourne, a majority of respondents were Christians.