The settlement experience of Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people living in the Australian regional centre of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

Van der Veen, Roger Neal (2004) The settlement experience of Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people living in the Australian regional centre of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Australia has accepted several million immigrant and humanitarian entrant people since the large-scale immigration program began at the end of World War II. Since the White Australia Policy was completely abandoned in the early 1970s, many more Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people have arrived in Australia. They have disproportionately moved to and settled in the metropolitan centres, and not the regional centres. There is very little literature about the settlement of Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people in Australian regional centres. This research used a dialectic social work lens to analyse critically how settlement was structurally and individually framed by exploring the settlement experience of Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people living in an Australian regional centre, using Coffs Harbour NSW as a case study. Respondents (31) and key informants (16) were interviewed using in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. There were six themes that proved to be significant that exhibited minimal social inclusion of Asian immigrant and humanitarian entrant people, resulting in a position of social inequality: Firstly, compatriots were present in small numbers, but were not deemed important. They did not play much of a role in the settlement of the respondents. Secondly, DIMIA funded hours of English language tuition were quite limited, and this resulted in most respondents only learning survival to functional English. Thirdly, the respondents had to interact with the townspeople, because of a lack of compatriots. Through this interaction, the respondents were forced to speak and learn more English. They were seen to be reaching out, by the townspeople. Fourthly, the respondents reported experiencing mainly low-level and unintentional discrimination and racism. The townspeople were reported overall as polite but tentative (tolerant but not accepting). Fifthly, the respondents were employed in part-time and casual work ranging from unskilled to semi-skilled. Their level of English kept them out of the occupations they wanted to work in, and this was not likely to change in Coffs Harbour; although, most of the respondents were employed in some capacity. Sixthly, belongingness, acceptance by the dominant group and the respondents’ sense of place, was attributed to Australia and in some cases to Australia and the country of origin. Belongingness was not attributed to Coffs Harbour or to compatriots. This reflects Australia, as the preferred country in which to live because of its standard of life. The respondents’ settlement was found to be one of minimal social inclusion (tolerance) resulting in a position of social inequality. This research has advocated change and reform, by striving to individualise the structural and giving voice to a marginalised group of people and then using this collectivised voice to advocate for change on the structural level. The commencement of this change and reform is the reconceptualisation of regional settlement.

Item ID: 1279
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australia, Coffs Harbour, Asian immigrants, humanitarian entrants, settlement, regional centres, compatriots, language, English, belongingness
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2007
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1603 Demography > 160303 Migration @ 0%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography @ 0%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations @ 0%
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