This study focuses on the community development approach to address the community’s needs and ambitions on the prevailing challenges. Information over the community is given after an established research. As a worker in the community health, centre part of my time has been used to direct counseling and develop community projects as approved by the board. In the recent times, there has been increasing cases of refugee South Sudanese. The refugees are facing many challenges such as personal stress, housing challenges, financial difficulties, family tensions, cultural differences, and alienation from the local communities. The study highlights ways through which the needs and aspirations of the community are realized. Different types of development work are to be focused and the preferred developmental focus is discussed.
A refugee is an individual who is not residing in their home country for fear of persecution over religion, race, membership to a given social group and nationality. These people flee their homes and seek refuge against other kinds of harm. 12 % of the 15.4 million refugees are from South Sudan (Abur, 2008, 12). The refugee community is leads among the disadvantaged communities in Australia. This is brought by the various challenges facing them. These challenges are felt more so due to the perception of the refugees of building their lives quickly and settling without any foreseeing the existing challenges. Adding up to the challenges, they are struck when they realize that their dreams cannot be appreciated as early as they had thought. Refugees from South Sudanese are a group of people majorly affected by the civil wars from their background. The South Sudanese have been affected by the civil wars in their home country. The war is approximated to have affected more than two million lives. Millions have been displaced and rendered homeless (Anderson, 2011, 23). The main issue, which brought about the war, is the ethnical and religious differences. There is also the issue of the oil discovery in the South, which have further increased the hostilities. Due to the war, the South Sudan refugees came to Australia in 2002-2005 (Atem, 2008, 9). Majority of them saw it fit to settle in Melbourne’s suburbs due to housing affordability and community relations. In the course of the settlement, majority have experienced social issues. Majority of the youths and families are still recovering from the traumas they underwent. The group also tends to have problems such as family breakdown and homelessness. Young people participate in criminal activities for financial freedom. The psychological condition, the economic, social, cultural, and political effects are diverse in the refugee camp.
Settlement experiences is challenging in refugee communities (Ager & Strang, 2008, 2). There is the feeling of homesickness and culture shock. This affects their settlements especially when there are no networks of supporting them. Due to the posttraumatic disorder suffered, these people have had the high demand for counseling. The other reason attributed to this challenge is the lack of adequate education in a developed country. They are therefore in need of high levels of care, medical services, and counseling. Since they are not sure of the time they will take in the refugee camp, most of them have sorted to settle and look for means of livelihood, which have rather been difficult based on the requirements and language complications. In Australia, refugees have been identified and settled in the camps for support. As from 1950, the United Nations have run the commission for refugees (UNHCR) to take care of the groups fleeing their countries for safety. The commission has sought to protect the group and resolve the problem. The main objective of the commission is to protect the rights and welfare of the refugees. As they have been settled, most of the refugees have experienced high levels of isolation, which has further led to stress and anxiety (Australian HRC, 2009, 12). Furthermore, most of these people have limited knowledge in English. In the project, I have undertaken we strive to help the group overcome language barriers, posttraumatic disorders and improved health. There is need for the refugees to get advocacy and political pressure for addressing the challenges and the needs they need.
Approaches to data collection
There are various approaches in collecting information from such a community scenario. There is the Participatory Action Research (PAR), SWOT analysis, problem tree analysis and solution/objective tree analysis (University of South Australia, 2012, 18). In this case, the solution-objective tree analysis is applied in gathering information on the challenges of the refugees in Melbourne and possible solutions. An appreciative inquiry is applied in gathering more information from the refugees. As a project coordinator, there are many ways through which I could apply the research to ascertain some important information. From the counseling sessions, I am able to gather personal information and challenges concerning the refugees. I am also able to hold open talk discussions with the group. This is after getting the necessary permissions from the authorities and from the participants. All the gathered information is to be applied for official use and with permission only. Open-ended questions can be asked during the counseling to gather what the group may be undergoing and why they are the majority in the counseling sessions of late. Counseling may assume intensive personal interviews with the given number of respondents (Ife, 2012, 3). Possible projects can be identified from the interviews. The interview will also cover the participants’ expectations and experiences related to the problems at hand. I am also able to survey the settlements and the living conditions of the group even as I visit and supervise the projects authorized by the board. This form of collecting information is relaxing as the information is gathered through conversation. This perspective is also helpful in covering the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres of the group.
Community Development Options
Due to the issues facing the community, there is need to have an active project for development purposes. Programs funded by the Australian government have been present. The support services accorded to the new refugees for five years. The services are inclusive of education, employment, health, and housing services. Provision of English language through tuition is part of the services offered even to the adults through the adult education program. There are factors, which affect the group even as they settle. Among them is the ability to adjust to new cultural life, level if education and life skills one is equipped with. These are the same factors, which affect the development of any project within the settlement. There is the financial grants that is offered to the community through the humanitarian settlement services program (Renzaho, 2011, 48). There is also the complex case support offered to the settlers. The adult migrant English program offers tuition for Basic English to adult refugees who lack the knowledge of English. Eligible people are able to acquire around 500 hours of tuition. This step is significant for the non-speaking groups like the Sudanese in Australia. The main objective is for the group to fully participate and blend in the society. It is also significant for employment purposes in the industrial sector. By acquiring the new language, the refugees have managed to overcome social isolation, which have arisen from the migration (Richmond, 2011, 34).
The settlement grant program is essential in the resettlement and self-dependence of the refugees. Some of the refugees who have had visas have been at a better position of enjoying social equitability of the society. The funding priorities have been exercised in relation to the yearly needs and statistical data. Hence, the communities with the greatest needs have been getting a higher percentage of the assistance. The humanitarian services have been active in ensuring that the refugees settle quickly. This has been through the capacity building, confidence development, and economical participation of the entire community. Through the given assistance, the group has managed to acquire knowledge and skills for future services required. The program has tailored the services to meet individual needs especially for the young. Complex support program offers intensive management of the services to the individuals with specific needs (Rubin & Rubin, 2010, 2). The main groups to be targeted are the people with extreme needs. The program works in partnership with the rest of the programs.
There is however need to empower the people and realize that settlement programs are done for a given period to necessitate quick settlement. There is need for the South Sudanese to understand that settlement is covered during the five years. In this period, they are expected to overcome language barriers and cultural challenges. This is the major problem realized among the early settlers. They have a problem of defining settlement. Since there is no stick of measuring the needs of the settlers, there is need for proper orientation and support programs. Absence of these orientations has led to issues connected to settlement. Absence of basic services has further made it difficult for the people to settle early. Therefore, the support programs have a higher probability of settling the South Sudanese early by offering them a sense of belonging. By working on the social relations of the refugees, the social support programs can reduce family conflicts and give them a sense of belonging. The settlement program can help the parents overcome the challenge of financial burden by enrolling their children into education programs (Spinks, 2009, 32). The settlement program can also ensure that the group understands the period they are expected to look for jobs to reduce unemployment rates. This can also help the program overcome the issue of welfare dependency. There is need for raising the awareness of waiting for improved living standards through getting jobs and overcoming the barriers within a short time (Stewart, et al, 2008, 9). This is because it is difficult for a person to have a job with little English in a developed nation. The group must understand that they must face cultural shock, as there is difficulty in direct absorption into the society. This problem is greatly affecting the young as the Australian system and lifestyle maybe a challenge at the beginning. Parents are to be exposed to other parenting methods so that the young and the children have an easy time in adopting the culture and the systems. The problem is felt when the five years have elapsed without proper settlement, job, and education. Such families have a difficult life as the social workers fail to support the people. This have further brought the challenge of housing and other services offered in the settlement (Stoke, 2004, 8).
There are limitations experienced in language difficulty and settlement support education services provided by the Adult Migrants Education Program (AMEP). Refugee groups who originate from non-English countries are constantly with language difficulties. It is complicated for adults to understand English quickly. It takes a long period for the adults to be taught English and be fully incorporated into the system. There is need for support to improve the education levels in literacy and numeracy. This is highly significant in employment (DIAC, 2012). The other challenge is that new refugees are only eligible for free English lessons for 500 hours. This is a policy guided by the AMEP. The extension of the services is important for improvement of the English skills in script and in messages. Education services through AMEP are significant to the refugees for English. However, the learning services are only offered within given timeframe (Tesoriero, 2010, 8).
There are some mistakes made by organizations involved the communities. These mistakes include a lack of partnership with refugee community groups, over-consultation on small projects and inadequate support services due limited resources (Tipping, 2010, 23). During interviews, South Sudanese community members stated that service providers only consult community members for projects’ endorsement and when it comes to implementation; the community is not considered in the delivery process on how the project. According to the refugee community, people are fully aware of issues facing them at grassroots level but it appears that projects that are designed from top-down approach are not meeting the needs of disadvantaged community groups. The refugee community members stated that some organizations are using a top down approach with the refugee community groups, and some are engaging young people well in a platform of partnership and participations (Turner, 2010, 12).
As a result of over consultation and lack of partnership, community members felt that there is no need to participate in consultation since nothing is going to come back to the community. One of the participants that participated in this research stated that she had enough experiences with organizations in relation to consultation; and that she cannot be motivated anymore to participate in them. Social institutions should attend to the needs of disadvantaged refugees and migrants as part of a broader plan to address social exclusion. This community who want agencies to partner with them in order to address pressing community issues including housing and employment (Victorian Foundation for Survivors, 1998, 2).
The employment topic is one of the critical themes that came up frequently during interviews. This section is discussing the employment challenges and difficulties of the South Sudanese in getting work (Victorian Foundation for Survivors, 2006, 18). Employment is vital in supporting refugee communities. When they earn money or have a stable income, there is reduction of the tension in financial difficulties. When people are employed, they are accepted and valued in society. Refugee communities undergo social concerns, which affect their capability of acquiring employment. The society is among the groups of refugee communities, which face challenges in the employment part. Receiving employment is necessary for material wellbeing and uniqueness (Westoby, 2008, 2). It is obvious that many refugees have difficulty in getting employment as they lack the locally acquired expertise and knowledge. However, some of the troubles are connected to need of skills and racial discrimination. The problems play roles in sustaining the refuges as unemployed and underemployed in as much as they may be possessing Australian qualifications.
The issue of unemployment is related to many factors such as education and prejudiced outlooks in workplaces. Refugees are often confronted with challenges in the labor market. Such issue is unexplainable in English language and recentness of their arrival (Yoorall, 2008, 12). Refugees counter larger adjustment problems in settlement. This is perceived to be a direct outcome of the traumatic events, which lead to their present settlement. They undergo unnecessary unemployment, disguised unemployment, non-employment, and under-employment. The effect is losing of their confidence to search for suitable jobs. The situation has continually deteriorated owing to little support from the settlement organizations. They therefore remain helpless. Young people who are looking for jobs get it rough due to high competition. Furthermore, unemployed parents have no choice of where to live and educate their children due to financial instability (Yost, 2002, 12). Racial discrimination is another major obstruction in gaining employment. Most employers dislike hiring refugees. Moreover, housing is stressful and challenging in Australia. The government is addressing the housing shortage. However, lack of resources for affordable housing is hard for the government to address homelessness in some cases. Families from refugee communities struggle housing.
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