Structural and Institutional Racism

Many refugee young people who arrive in Australia have had disrupted schooling experiences due to war in their home country and spending long periods of time escaping their home country and being in refugee camps. As a result of this many refugee young people may be pre-literate or have limited language and literacy skills and find it difficult to settle into mainstream schooling. Limited funding to mainstream schools to address the specific learning needs of refugee young people results in high numbers of refugee young people not completing VCE and having low school retention rates.

Inadequate educational support for newly arrived refugee young people in mainstream schools is discriminatory and prevents refugee young people accessing further education and employment and participating fully in the community. (Based on WYPIN's afterschool homework program that supports refugee young people with their schoolwork and educational needs.)

  • I need to leave school and look for a job to support my family. Vietnamese young person, who must wait 2 years before being eligible for Austudy and social security benefits.

Finances at home are strained as his father is only able to get casual factory work as a result the above young person feels pressured to leave school to help his family out. Desperate for work and with limited language skills this young person is vulnerable to low paid work.

  • My Uncle sold his work tractor to enable me to flee Afghanistan, hoping that once I reached Australia I would be able to help him and my family get out of Afghanistan. I now must wait three years before I even know if I will be able to stay in Australia and then maybe another 3 years before I can be reunited with my family. (17 year Afghani young person.)

Although meeting the UNHCR definition of a refugee this young people like thousands others have been given Temporary Protection Visas by the Australian Government.

The 2-year waiting period and Temporary Protection Visas are punitive policies, that rather than supporting vulnerable newly arrived migrants and supporting them to initially settle discriminates against them.

There is an acute need for a whole of government response to racial discrimination. More education is required around the need for protective and special measures in order to assist and support disadvantaged groups, so they are not viewed as getting unreasonable, favoured treatment.


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