Multicultural Youth Services ACT

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					                    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 [33].
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.

				
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