Call for Government to put young people at the forefront
July 24, 2013
A national forum on young people from refugee backgrounds has noted that young people are falling through the cracks of education and health systems.
The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) – Australia’s nationally recognised policy and advocacy body on multicultural youth issues - recently led Australia’s first national conference on refugee young people in Sydney last week.
Five key recommendations arose from the two-day conference ‘Refugee Youth in Focus’, with the MYAN urgently calling on the Government to:
Develop a national status report on how young people from refugee backgrounds are faring.
Provide a national framework for the care and support of children and young people who come to Australia as asylum seekers or refugees.
Establish a national and consistent approach to ESL support in secondary schools
Improve access and equity in relation to youth mental health services, including the development of targeted programs to cater to the needs of refugee young people
Provide improved transition support for unaccompanied humanitarian minors who turn 18 and have to leave out-of-home care.
“As the first national forum on young people from refugee backgrounds, the conference was a landmark event. These recommendations highlight a number of key gaps in the service system and the need for a more coherent and consistent approach to the care and support of young people who are seeking asylum or settling in Australia,” MYAN National Coordinator Nadine Liddy said.
“If implemented, these recommendations would provide much needed benchmarks in the care and support of refugee young people, and contribute to better accountability in policy and service delivery.”
Over 300 representatives from education, employment, health, settlement, government and migration law fields attended the conference. The conference closed with a panel comprising of Senator Kate Lundy, Senator Richard Di Natale and the Hon. Teresa Gambaro. Through this panel, bi-partisan support for a national status report on how young people from refugee backgrounds are faring (mirroring the 2011 Victorian Refugee Status Report) was achieved, along with the need for a cross-government approach to meeting the needs of young people from this cohort. This includes better data collection and the importance of a specialist approach in mainstream youth programs like Youth Connections and headspace.
The MYAN will continue to engage with Government and the NGO sector to ensure youth and settlement services best meet the needs of young people from refugee backgrounds.