Flinders Caring Futures Institute researcher and Professor in Disability and Community Inclusion Sally Robinson is involved in a project examining the experiences of refugee and migrant children with disability in South Australia, their carers, and the service providers that support them.
With funding from the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, Growing Up Well in a New Country is investigating the mental health support needs of refugee and migrant children with disability and their carers, while examining the barriers and facilitators to accessing government services and community supports people face.
The project also aims to explore any differences in experiences, support needs and service issues refugee and migrant children with disability are exposed to and identify examples of good practice that support mental health for children and their carers.
Professor Robinson says the project addresses a complex problem.
“Research has shown children from migrant and refugee backgrounds are likely to have experienced issues such as disrupted education and dislocation, intergenerational trauma and separation from family members, which can affect their psychological and physical wellbeing and development. But the experience of children with disability from these backgrounds is underexplored.
“Providing appropriate supports for children from migrant and refugee backgrounds with disability is essential. Despite the higher risk of mental health issues, there are a range of general and disability- specific support service barriers have been identified, operating at organisational and broader system levels.
“Much of the research in this area has focused on the views of service providers and there has been little consideration of children and young people and carers and the issues they face.”
Drawing on mixed methods, including participatory methodologies, policy analysis and qualitative interviews, the team will deliver recommendations about how to better support the mental health and wellbeing of migrant and refugee children with disability and their carers.
Led by Flinders’ Associate Professor Anna Ziersch and involving Associate Professor Clemence Due from the University of Adelaide and Dr Moira Walsh, the team will develop a booklet and short video outlining the main findings, with photographs and other data from the project and recommendations developed through its consultations, as well as a policy brief to be circulated widely. The findings will also be presented to stakeholder meetings and disseminated through academic papers and conferences.
“We also aim to develop partnerships between organisations and migrant and refugee children with disability and their families to continue to explore and advocate for mental health supports,” Professor Robinson says.
The project is conducted in partnership with the South Australian Refugee Health Service, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia, Can:do 4 Kids and Novita SA, and in collaboration with other key migrant, refugee and disability organisations.