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Keywords:

  • Subjective well being;
  • psychological distress;
  • long-term refugee resettlement;
  • Afghan;
  • Kurdish

Abstract

Objective: To examine the resettlement experiences and provide data of well being and psychological distress for Afghan and Kurdish refugees settled between eight and 20 years in New Zealand and Australia.

Methods: Participants completed the Kessler-10 Psychological Distress Scale (K10) and Personal Well Being Index (PWI) for subjective well being. A mixed methods approach was used, with participants also discussing during interview resettlement difficulties, quality of life (QOL) and sources of stress.

Results: Data from 81 Muslim participants is reported; all spoke English, were generally well educated with 88% having secondary or tertiary level education, and the majority of those resettled before 2001 lived in Perth. Although psychological distress levels were mostly within the low-moderate risk range, significant differences were observed by gender and employment status. Participants identified a range of ongoing stressors with unemployment of particular concern. Social isolation and a sense that they would never really ‘fit in’ was also reported by some. Participants particularly valued the safety and improved quality of life in their host communities.

Conclusions: Despite their appreciation of the overall resettlement experience, too much time to introspect, separation from family, status dissonance and still occasionally feeling overwhelmed by resettlement challenges is a long-term ongoing reality for some former refugees.

Implications: Former refugees continue to struggle with unemployment, possible discrimination and loss of status long-term.