Multicultural Youth Services ACT Budget Submission 2009 Multicultural Youth Services ACT (MYS) has supported migrant and refugee young people aged 12 – 25 since 2000. MYS supports 200 young people per annum through case work with: Finding and accessing accommodation family breakdown financial planning/managing debt legal support accessing transport Centrelink/ATO Problems at school Homework support Referral to counselling and mental health services Referral to health professionals, doctors, dentists, The Junction Health service Referral to rape and domestic violence services Referral to ACT Care and Protection services Support with applying for employment, learning about the Australian job market, career options and employment and training pathways Support with visa and family proposal applications, directly or through referral to migrations agents In 2008-9, MYS saw a surge of both the quantity and complexity of case work support requested by clients. An increasing number of MYS clients are experiencing family breakdown, disengagement from school and ultimately homelessness. Also, in 2008-9, MYS became aware of an emerging situation with 20 of its clients experiencing unplanned pregnancies and becoming disengaged from their community and social support networks. MYS also saw an increased demand for drop-in services with 40- 60 people per day using the Drop-In centre at our the MYS Griffin Centre drop-in location. This has resulted in Griffin Centre management and tenants raising concerns of overcrowding and disturbance to other tenants. To support rising demands, MYS has successfully sought funding for additional programs through a: Young Mum’s Club Career Club both of which commenced recently and support approximately 20 clients each. 1. Support for 22- 25 year olds Unfortunately, July 2009 saw the end of the ACT Government’s Community Inclusion Fund, a key fund for supporting 22 – 25 year old migrant and refugee young people at MYS, as well as community development activities for 21 – 25 year olds, such as Road Ready driver training classes, hop-hop workshops, music workshops, participation in sports eg soccer matches, nutrition and healthy food classes, and excursions to local and national sites of learning and interest. The CIF also allowed MYS the staffing to keep open 5 days per week, as well as doing outreach work, community development activities, attending network meetings and consultations. Currently MYS is open 4 days week with limited hours (see Appendix One for further details and evidence). Recommendation: That the ACT Government supports MYS to recommence case work with 22 – 25 year olds and community development activities for 21 – 25 year olds. Cost: $80,000. 2. Representative Body Multicultural Youth Services ACT acts a peak body on multicultural youth issues in the ACT. It has run a Multicultural Youth Issues network in the ACT since 2002, multicultural youth consultations, and workshops on multicultural youth issues for local youth services and agencies including the Youth Coalition of the ACT. Its Manager and Youth Workers attend and contribute to: Youth Coalition ACT monthly forums ACT Government’s Refugee Settlement Network meetings Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s COMPASS meetings Centrelink’s MAGIC (Multicultural Advisory Group in Centrelink) meetings Companion House’s Settlement Network meetings MYS staff have also presented training/public speaking at: ACT Office of Education’s ESL Teacher network CIT’s Home Tutor Training ACT Youth Coalition’s “Working with Multicultural Young People” training ACT Office of Women: Women’s Draft Strategy 2009 - 12 MYS staff have been consulted on Multicultural Youth Issues in the ACT by: ACTCOSS: Filling the Gaps in Education Legislative Enquiry The ACT Children And Young People’s Commission (gaps in service delivery for migrant and refugee young people in the ACT) The Youth Coalition of the ACT: Multicultural Draft Strategy, Budget Submissions 2007-9 MYS has also recently made direct, written responses to the ACT Draft Multicultural and Young people’s Strategies, highlighting demographic trends, issues and needs of migrant and refugee young people in the ACT, with related recommendations. MYS is the ACT Representative on the National Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (NMYAN) in recognition of its experience in supporting multicultural young people and its knowledge of the needs, challenges and strengths of this demographic group. MYS has also participated in national research on migrant and refugee young people by facilitating client focus groups for: Foundation House (supporting survivors of torture and trauma, Melbourne)/ University of Melbourne Psychology Department (“Protective factors for Sudanese Refugee young people in Australia”) Deakin University (“Young Refugees: transnational experiences, cosmopolitan conditions”) The Refugee Council of Australia (three consultations with refugee young people in the ACT on how better to give refugee young people a voice nationally) MYS also convened a consultation with government, community services and education providers in the ACT for the Centre for Multicultural Youth (Vic) and the Australian Research Alliance on Children and Young People in preparing for their publication “Multicultural Youth in Australia: Settlement and transition” 2007. Finally, MYS supported the ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs and the staff of the Office of Multicultural Affairs to plan, promote and implement the 2006 ACT Multicultural Youth Forum and the Youth panel and Youth presentation of the 2008 ACT Multicultural Forum. MYS also provides peer support to other youth services and programs in the ACT on as “as needs” basis regarding supporting multicultural clients and discrimination issues, and is frequently requested by other services to “provide” or “source” multicultural young people for their programs and activities. Whilst the need for a Multicultural Youth Service in the ACT may not be recognized at all times by government, it receives numerous emails and phone calls from bodies requiring assistance with “sourcing” multicultural young people weekly, and is hence recognized as the place to connect with multicultural young people and/or become better acquainted with their worlds. Recommendation That MYS is supported in providing consultation, advice, training, mentoring and advocacy to the ACT government, community services, police and schools on multicultural youth issues. This could be my means of a CALD Youth Sector Development worker, 2 days per week. Cost: $23,000. 3. Burmese Young People Whilst MYS has been highly successful in engaging Sudanese Young People and Community, it is acknowledged that the space and resources limit MYS’s capacity to extend services to some refugee young people not accessing services – MYS or other services. Of concern are Karen and Mon young people. There are 360 Karen and Mon people in the ACT at present and 350 Sudanese people (Companion House 2009) Recommendation That MYS is supported to recruit a part-time Burmese Youth Worker to hold youth and community consultations to identify Burmese young people’s needs, to provide outreach support for Burmese young people where necessary and provide community capacity building among this demographic. Cost: $20,000. 4. Space It is now well known that MYS has a space at the Griffin Centre of 60 square meters in size for its drop-in centre accommodating 40 – 60 people per day, in which there are 6 client computers, a pool table, a games area and tea and coffee bureau. Over- crowding at MYS is a concern, in terms of Occupational Health and Safety, but also as it fails, at present to provide enough appropriate areas for the diverse range of client needs. These include young women, and in particular Muslim young women. Whilst MYS works with other youth services to encourage use-age of mainstream Youth Centres by its clients, MYS acknowledges that, at least in their first stages of settlement, migrant and refugee young people seem to prefer CALD specific services while they gain confidence with Australian norms, systems and language. Recommendation That government supports MYS by providing a larger space for MYS and/or support for rental for increased accommodation capacity. Cost: $12,000 5. Family Support The dynamics within CALD families and communities is often very complex. For CALD and refugee young people, juggling family and community expectations with individual goals and aspirations and peer pressures can be challenging. Family relationships are often of particular significance to refugee young people. Family groupings have often been completely restructured on arrival in Australia due to the death of family members or family re-configuration due to war and migration. Settlement often involves young people finding a new place in the family. In the ACT, MYS has found that of its 200 clients in the 2008-9 financial year, only 2 had fathers living. The majority had been killed in wars. Many young people accessing MYS were living with adults in the ACT whom they had not known prior to arrival in the ACT. Some were sponsored by relatives, for example, who they had never met. Some are currently living with their mothers, who they been separated from as infants and had only now, in the ACT, come to live with them again. This can be an exciting time of reunion for families, yet is often fraught with tension, expectations and misunderstandings. Homelessness among the refugee youth community of the ACT is unfortunately a sad and relatively common consequence of unresolved family tensions (MYS statistics). MYS believes that more support should be given to refugee and migrant families in the ACT through targeted, culturally appropriate family support services. Recommendation ACT government support MYS to employ a part-time family counselor to work with families experiencing conflict due to refugee and migration experiences, This will be carried out in a CALD appropriate manner, such as with bi-cultural workers. As family conflict is the most significant factor contributing to CALD Youth homelessness in the ACT at present (MYS data), it is likely to create significant social and economic savings for government and community. Cost: $22,000 References ABS (2006) Census of Population and Housing Coventry L, Guerra C, MacKenzie D, Pinkney S. (2002) Wealth of All Nations: Identification of strategies to assist refugee young people in the transition to independence. Hobart: Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies. Francis S. and Cornfoot S. (2007) Multicultural Youth in Australia: Settlement and Transition. Melbourne: Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues. Francis S. and Cornfoot S. (2007) Working with Multicultural Youth: Programs, Strategies and Future Directions. Melbourne: Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues. Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council (2002), Strategy for Refugee Young People, Canberra: Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Western Young People’s independent Network (2003). No Space for Racism: Young People’s Voices and Recommendations. Melbourne Western Young Person’s Independent Network & Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria. Appendix One Community Inclusion Fund Outcomes Through ACT Government Community Inclusion Funds (CIF) ”Building Bridges” program, Multicultural Youth Services ACT has been able to effectively address the gap for case management to assist with gaining employment, education, accommodation, training, address poverty, family matters and improve community participation for 22 to 25 year old refugees and migrants in the ACT. This is a significant gap that has not been targeted in any other programs or projects. The second goal of the project is to establish community development activities using art, recreation, sport and peer-based mentoring support for at-risk culturally and linguistically diverse young people aged 12-25, with a focus on refugee and migrant young people. Social isolation due to ESL barriers, war trauma, family breakdown, grief, poverty and cultural/religious differences, leaves many migrant and refugee young people alienated from the community. This can compound their sense of loss, grief and interfere with sound mental and emotional health. Culturally responsive social and recreational opportunities are a well-documented strategy to overcome language barriers and facilitate communication and friendships between young people who are presently unable to connect with a common language. As a result of CIF funding (ended in 2008-09), MYS had been able to: - work with newly arrived refugees up to age 25 years - establish a successful multicultural drop-in centre - engaged multicultural youth community in activities and community development - receive client trust through client centred approach and appropriate support for young people - run holiday programs for multicultural youth between 12 and 25 years - present workshops and information session for young people - develop good client relationships - most referrals are through word-of-mouth Programs for young refugees up to age 25 are necessary as: - many new arrivals are in their 20’s (DIAC Report – Demographic Trends In Humanitarian Arrivals 2006) - most have not completed secondary level or even basic primary education - all require support eg accommodation, employment, etc - most feel more comfortable in accessing a specialist multicultural youth service such as MYS, especially in the early stages of settlement - other funding for migrants and refugee young people (NAYSS from FACSIA) only supports people up to 21 years of age Assessment/Evidence of Impact of CIF “Building Bridges” Program: - current level of contact with young new arrivals is high averaging around 900 per month - MYS won the ACT Early Intervention Award 2006 for its model of Service Delivery. - through CIF funding, MYS has established a drop-in centre which has been reviewed as a successful model in Australian research - Need for MYS client service highlighted in research carried out on "Sudanese s Young people' perception and experience of MYS" 2006 by Atem Atem - Action research highlighted by John Chol Reech and Heidi Gill highlighted the need for a range of consultation approached Impact if CIF “Building Bridges” program discontinued: - No specific multicultural settlement service directly supporting young refugees - Limited connection with other new settlers and limited community participation and engagement - High risk of dissociated youth leading to longer term issues and adjustment problems for youth - Potential risk of marginalised youth groups and gangs Client Statistics 2007 Monthly client contacts at the ACT Multicultural Youth Service (Griffin Centre) have now surpassed 1000 contacts and the demand for client services increases on a monthly basis. The following statistics do not include an additional 220 contacts during the July MYS school holiday program. See other email attachment for last 12 month’s schedule Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Total 556 485 453 602 736 786 867 912 5397 Male 246 125 85 174 96 115 176 172 1189 Female 751 572 517 749 802 873 987 1041 6292 Refugee 51 28 21 27 30 28 56 43 284 Migrant 802 610 538 776 832 901 1043 1084 6586 What is worth noting in these statistics is the increasing percentage of young people between 22 and 25 years (CIF project target) currently estimated at around 60% of total MYS clients. The initial CIF annual client target was 35 young people between 22-25 per annum. There is now double that number of CIF clients. For the first seven months of 2007, MYS has already recorded 38 new clients 22-25 years and therefore anticipates having between 65 and 70 young clients in this age group by the end of this project in Dec 2007, double the number initially anticipated. The increase in young people 22-25 is occurring because there are more new arrivals in this age group and a number of current MYS clients are moving into the 22-25 age bracket. See attachment “Trends in Humanitarian Arrivals – ACT” which shows a spike in arrivals aged 18-34yrs. Client Services 2007 The following chart highlights the type of MYS services provided to young people. MYS continues to provide significant settlement support for young people with accommodation, employment, education and housing. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Total Aug Accommodation 11 11 10 9 23 8 9 81 Advocacy 18 16 12 11 17 14 30 118 Application forms 10 18 26 10 8 11 83 Bus ticket 4 4 Catch Up – Emotional Support 40 39 53 34 58 22 246 Centrelink 7 7 Childcare referral 2 2 4 Closed Due to Storm Damage Computer use 151 131 188 233 264 312 338 1617 Counselling 11 4 8 8 31 DIAC 1 1 Driving licence/Road ready course 3 3 Education 11 11 7 9 13 3 54 ESL 0 Employment, Resume, Job Search 91 18 20 21 34 45 55 287 Family 0 Financial Assistance 11 13 4 6 6 13 15 68 Guardian Problems 44 44 Hang Out 34 42 51 127 Health (general) 1 2 3 Holiday program, info 96 211 220 527 Homework 7 7 2 4 33 53 MYS info 2 15 12 29 Legal 5 5 1 5 16 Pool Table 162 149 156 183 207 234 217 1308 Road Ready 28 4 32 Support letter 3 4 4 11 Telephone, fax, photocopier 163 93 153 213 198 247 279 1346 Transport 20 20 12 16 9 12 13 102 Visa issues (for family or self) 2 2 Young Mothers Group 51 28 28 107 MYS Grant Limitations Except for the CIF project, MYS grants are limited to age 21 years and it is only through the CIF grant that MYS has been able to assist people in the 22-25 age bracket. Furthermore, MYS has turned away around 60 new arrivals between 26 and 30 years that needed assistance with education, accommodation and employment. For Sudanese and many other cultures, people within this age group are regarded as a young person. It is unfortunate that we are having to cease vital support at a time in their settlement simply because they have reached the 21 year age limit. Appendix Two Barriers Experienced by Migrant and Refugee Young people in the ACT Refugees and Resettlement In 2006/07, 74% of Australia’s 12,747 Humanitarian arrivals were under the age of 30. In the ACT, 70% of all refugees to arrive from 2001-2007 were aged between 12 – 30 (DIAC 2008). As refugees, this group of young people have been forced to flee their country of origin because of war or persecution and arrive in Australia with or without immediate or extended family. The refugee experience is by nature traumatic, and young people who are refugees are likely to have experienced all or some of the following: A dangerous escape from their country of origin, traveling long distances, Living in unsafe and insecure environments for extended periods of time, Separation from family or significant others and, Extended periods of time spent in transition countries or refugee camps1. The average length of time spent in a refugee camp is 7 years and for some young people, this is the majority of their lives pre-arrival in Australia. Further, for young people who are refugees in ACT, the developmental tasks of adolescence are compounded by the traumatic nature of the refugee experience, cultural dislocation, loss of established social networks and the practical demands of resettlement (RRAC 2002:4). In building a new life in Australia, refugee young people are faced with a range of challenges. These include: • Negotiating education and employment pathways (many with a history of disrupted or no formal education). • Learning a new language and negotiating a new culture. • Establishing new peer networks. • Navigating unfamiliar and complex social systems (such as Centrelink, health services, Australian laws, public transport). • Understanding and responding to pre-settlement trauma. • Negotiating new or changed family structures, roles and responsibilities. • Negotiating individual, family and community expectations. Racism & Discrimination Despite the diversity of the Australian community, racism is an ever-present reality for multicultural young people. This group of young people often relate experiences of harassment, violence, teasing and the general feeling that they don’t belong . Young people’s experiences of racism can have a significant impact on self-esteem, self-confidence, and sense of connection and belonging to the broader community (WYPIN, 2003). Experiences of racism can be divided into explicit racism, including racial vilification and abuse, and implicit racism. Implicit racism is seen in community attitudes and the representations of migrant and refugee young people in the media. Media representation is often negative, failing to recognise diversity, achievements and strengths of multicultural young people and their communities. Young people experience more explicit racism and discrimination at school (i.e. racist bullying and exclusion, and conflict between groups of young people), at work or when seeking employment, and in the private housing sector – most commonly when seeking private rental through real estate agents. They feel that assumptions and judgements are made about their capacity to fulfil responsibilities based on race, ethnicity and culture. Homelessness and Housing Multicultural young people are at increased risk of homelessness due to the refugee and migration experience and the pressures this can have on individuals and families. In an Australian context, it is estimated that the risk of homelessness for multicultural young people, is up to 10 times higher than for the general population (Coventry, et.al. 2002:50). NMYAN members agree that in our practice and experience, homelessness is a widespread issue for multicultural youth and has significant ramifications for engagement in education and employment, mental health, family relationships, safety, connection to community, etc. In addition to those factors that can precipitate homelessness for refugee and migrant young people, this group of young people also experience a number of barriers that prevent their equitable access to adequate housing and housing support. This in turn increases their risk of homelessness. These barriers include: 4.1 Young people’s limited English language skills, and unfamiliarity with Australian culture and systems, resulting in an inability to understand and navigate the housing and homelessness service system – e.g., advocating for their housing needs, lease agreements, procedures for terminating a tenancy, etc. 4.2 Limited resources within the housing sector and a lack of culturally appropriate support, at both individual and organisational levels, to assist multicultural young people in negotiating the housing system. 4.3 Young people’s lack of financial resources (sometimes as a result of migration visa types) to cover bonds, furniture and other household items, high rents and increases in rent. 4.4 No rental history for young people in Australia and lack of appropriate references. 4.5 Racism and discrimination in the private rental market - from real estate agents and landlords, resulting in young people being denied their preferences and being forced to accept unsatisfactory housing. 4.6 Implications of current homelessness policy and practice frameworks (that shape funding guidelines) for multicultural young people – i.e. limitations of the term homelessness for accurate data collection and the definition of homelessness in relation to early intervention and prevention support programs. 4.7 Lack of targeted support for pregnant young women from multicultural backgrounds. 4.8 Overcrowded housing/lack of appropriately sized housing (including public housing stock) for large families/sibling groups. Many multicultural young people enter the homelessness system because they are living in overcrowded accommodation (e.g. 2 bedroom units or houses for a family of 9; 3 bedroom houses accommodating families of 16). Overcrowded housing often leads to family conflict as young people negotiate independence and access to appropriate space to study. 4.9 Location of accessible housing in outer suburbs, where young people and/or families have limited access to public transport and community networks and services. 4.10 General shortage of public housing and low-cost private rental housing. Education, Training and Employment Pathways Access to appropriate education and training pathways is commonly noted as the most significant issue for multicultural young people. Multicultural young people are often required to learn a new language in an unfamiliar education environment, and for many refugee and newly arrived young people, this is compounded by limited, interrupted or no formal schooling prior to their arrival in Australia. The key issues for young people and their families in accessing and remaining engaged in education and employment pathways are: 1.1 Limited understanding of the ACT/Australian education system, combined with often unrealistic expectations from family and/or self. 1.2 Lack of flexibility in the mainstream education system – for example, being placed in age level rather than skill level. 1.3 Finding space and time to study – in the context of often crowded living environments, supporting family in the resettlement process, and pressure to earn an income in addition to studying. 1.4 Lack of resources in mainstream schools (both English Language Centres and secondary schools) to cope with and respond to the literacy level and needs of newly arrived and refugee young people (particularly given the high rates of disrupted or very limited schooling prior to arrival in Australia). 1.5 Lack of targeted support for the transition from English Language Schools/Centres into mainstream schools secondary schools and/or into training. 1.6 Limited understanding and targeted support to understand, navigate and access training and higher education pathways – i.e. understanding the system, accessing information and services, and accessing alternative pathways between school and further education and training. 1.7 Lack of recognition of prior learning and/or training when accessing employment opportunities; lack of job seeking skills; experiences of racism in job seeking, land often access only to unskilled and low pay work. For young people from the Sudan, for example, the average time spent in education prior to coming to Australia for young people is 2.3 years (UNSW Refugee Studies Centre 2005). Young people aged 15-18 are then introduces into schooling with their age-peers who have completed on average 10 years of schooling. In the ACT, subsequent to transferal from the Secondary Introductory English Centre (SIEC) at Dickson College, to mainstream schools and colleges, the drop-out rate is alarmingly high (MYS client data 2008-9). Appendix Three Statistics of migrant and refugee young people in the ACT There have been 2,491 humanitarian arrivals in the ACT from July 1991 to April 2009.2 In the ACT, 70% of all humanitarian entrants to arrive from 2001-2007 were aged between 12 – 30 (DIAC 2008). The 2006 Census showed that approximately 10 per cent (10,800) of Canberrans between the ages of 0-24 years were born overseas3. Furthermore, 35 per cent (26,500) of dependent children and young people in the ACT aged between 0-24 years of age have at least one parent born overseas. ! " # $ % % & ' ! (ACT Multicultural Strategy 2009 -12 draft September 2009) Appendix Four General Recommendations for Multicultural Youth Support in the ACT Recommendations 1. Develop a Policy on Multicultural Young People that focuses on responding to the needs of multicultural young people in the ACT. 2. Developing a Refugee Youth Settlement Strategy that enhances the on- arrival settlement system for refugee and newly arrived young people, including improved youth orientation and information provision. 3. Increase flexibility and resources within the mainstream secondary education system to accommodate the needs of multicultural young people. 4. Establish benchmarks and indicators to increase access for multicultural young people to the broader mainstream or generalist service sector. 5. Invest in sector support – including professional development and training for generalist and government services and improved coordination between services and sectors. 6. Increase recognition of and funding for flexible and responsive models of service delivery – including outreach, family-centred support, etc. 7. Initiate research and systematic, consistent data collection across the ACT on CALD youth and young people’s needs. 8. Increase availability of programs that promote anti-racism, diversity and inter- faith dialogue in schools and local communities and focus on developing skills to combat and overcome racism and discrimination. 9. Developing a Multicultural Youth Housing Strategy that would encompass adequate and consistent data collection, adequate interpreter funding, extended periods of support, support to navigate the private and public housing system, etc. 10. Funding an ACT Youth Multicultural Network to ensure coordinated, formalised and consistent support to multicultural youth across all sectors. For further enquiries, please contact Catriona Heath on 0407 415 721.