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Keeping families together is key to refugee settlement in Australia

Monash researchers have come together with Oxfam Australia to examine the social impact of family separation on refugee settlement in Australia, concluding that keeping families together is key, in terms of enhancing social inclusion, integration and cohesion.

Supported by MSDI's Oxfam-Monash Partnership, the collaboration between the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and Oxfam featured together with economic data from Deloitte Access Economics to provide evidence-based recommendations to inform policy on humanitarian family reunion in Australia.

Emerging Australian evidence reveals that family separation can have negative effects on an individual's well-being, including ongoing trauma and limitation of migrants' economic and social participation, compromising the settlement process for new migrants.

Drawing on both scholarly and grey literature; an analysis of the "Building a New Life in Australia" survey of humanitarian migrants and case studies, this new research by Monash also focused on the benefits of family reunion. The research found that refugees and humanitarian migrants who had been reunited with their families had a lower probability of mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and were more likely to be engaged in study or job training.

As Dr Rebecca Wickes, Director for the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre highlights, "We often look at the short-term costs of family reunion, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); missed opportunities for educational development and building a new life. We need to focus on the long-term gains of reuniting families".

To address these issues, the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre, through the Oxfam-Monash Partnership, is supporting Families Together, a new campaign from Oxfam Australia that aims to make it easier for refugees and humanitarian migrants to reunite with families overseas.

Families Together was launched in Melbourne on Wednesday 28 August along with the central report for the campaign, Stronger Together. This campaign is based on research by Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and Deloitte Access Economics that provides clear evidence of the social and economic benefits family reunification can bring.

Key findings and recommendations can be found in the reports: