Annotated Bibliography of New Zealand Literature on Migrant and Refugee Youth
RESEARCH GAPS AND EMERGING RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In general, there is a growing and vibrant body of research being conducted with and about key groups of young migrants. There is considerably less research focusing on the lives of young refugees. Fifty-two references are cited in the Keyword Index as being relevant to refugees but only one half of these involve research focusing specifically on this group. The other half includes research concerned more generically with young people who are new arrivals to New Zealand (most of this relates to ESOL in schools).
Clearly, young refugees face significant challenges. Research is needed to inform understanding of these challenges so that suitable responses, in both policy and practice, can be made to address the needs of these young people.
As with young migrants, this group is coping with significant cultural change in the shift to New Zealand, so most of the issues facing young migrants also apply to young refugees. But refugees are also likely to be dealing with the consequences of upheaval and trauma in their lives prior to their move here. This means that, while research is needed, particular care must be taken because of the vulnerable nature of this group. It is important, therefore, that research with young refugees is designed in consultation with refugee communities and with the young people themselves. (Some good examples of participatory action research involving young refugees are found in Armstrong et al. 2005 [I2], Evolve 2005 [E47] and Victoria University of Wellington Research Team 2005 [E90].)
Most of the research cited here on young refugees is concerned with education. This is not surprising: as with many young migrants, the language needs of young refugees are an immediate issue faced by teachers and schools. Alongside these language needs, however, are other challenges not usually experienced by migrant youth. In particular, many young refugees have experienced disrupted (and, in some cases, non-existent) formal schooling. This situation has implications both for their integration into the New Zealand education system and for their post-school employment prospects. Some of the work cited here addresses this issue (e.g. Cochrane et al. 1993 [E43], Guerin et al. 2003 [E53], Humpage 1998a [E63], Wilton 1999 [E93]) but much more could be done, for example, around the school-to-work transition and the ways in which schools can assist in this transition.
As the Keyword Index indicates, research in other areas of young refugees' lives - on family and social networks, access to services, and identity/participation, is relatively sparse. We know relatively little about the impact of family break-up and loss, disrupted family relationships and altered family structure on the mental and physical health and wellbeing of these young people, or about how various social services might be made accessible and useful for them. The Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa report (2003 [H2]) lists just how little official data has been gathered on these young people over time, and how little evaluation or monitoring of their status has taken place over the years. Recently, the Refugee Voices project (Dibley and Dunstan 2002 [I9], NZIS 2004 [I25]) has gone some way to redressing this lack, but much more remains to be done since clearly all these areas significantly affect the settlement and social inclusion experiences of young refugees.
There are absences too in research about certain groups of young migrants, specifically from Europe, the United States and South Africa (although see Mason 1997 [H23]). This may be because these young people are not regarded as sufficiently 'different' from their New Zealand peers to have settlement problems, but it may be that this is a problematic assumption worthy of investigation.
The research gathered here has focused strongly on the two principal domains in which refugee and migrant young people are located: home and school.
As noted above, a good deal of work has explored intergenerational relationships within families, examining the importance of the family as the central social network for young refugees and migrants. The family is also clearly a site of tension as these young people negotiate transitions between their heritage culture and the culture(s) of their host society. Much of this tension involves relationships with peers.
References in the research to peer relationships tend to focus on these as a source of potential conflict within families, and clearly, bridging the culture gap between the foundational social networks of family and friends is important in terms of successful settlement for young refugees and migrants. Much more could be learned, however, about the dynamics of youth peer relationships both within and between ethnic communities. How do peer relationships operate to assist or to hinder cultural integration (young people feeling at home in both their heritage culture and the host society culture)? More too, could be learned about cultural conflict between peers of different cultural backgrounds and the ways in which this may hinder social inclusion. Humpage (2000b [E65]) notes this as important in her study of Somali adolescents; Dickinson (2003 [H12]) looks at bullying between peers of different cultures; and the work by Sobrun-Maharaj (2002 [H28]) suggests that research on the dynamics of the peer relationships is urgently needed because these are likely to significantly affect the physical and mental wellbeing of young refugees and migrants.
One more related area that is likely to grow in importance, but about which there is a paucity of research, concerns the use (or lack of use) of electronic communications technologies by migrant and refugee young people. The often intensive ways in which these technologies are used by many young people for social networking poses questions about whether, and to what extent, they facilitate or hinder social inclusion among young migrants and refugees.
Education and employment
As noted above, there is considerable research on the education of young migrants and refugees but very little on their subsequent employment. This is a significant gap. Are they, like many of their Kiwi counterparts, heavily engaged in employment while still at school? This may be particularly important if young refugees and migrants are expected to 'help out' if the family is struggling financially because, for example, parents have been unable to gain stable employment. Once they have left school or tertiary education, how do these young people make the transition to employment? Some work has been done on the employment aspirations of these groups (for example, Bartley 2003 [I3], Ho et al. 1996 [E107], and Jones 1987 [E108]) but we know almost nothing about their actual transitions into the workforce. Significant research on migrant employment has taken place, and is taking place, (for example, work by the New Settlers and the Labour Market Dynamics Programmes at Massey University and by the Migration Research Group at Waikato University) but this research has tended to focus on adult migrants.
There is a recognition in much of the educational research on language and learning styles that educational outcomes are closely linked to the ease with which language is acquired and the extent to which learning styles suit young learners. The links between educational outcomes and employment for young refugees and migrants has not, however, been explored.
Thus we know very little about the first of the goals of the Settlement Strategy as this relates to young people.
The research has indicated that young refugees' and migrants' help-seeking behaviour beyond their families tends to be limited. It is not clear from the research whether this is a barrier to successful settlement or not, but it seems likely that it is.
While there is a body of research on engagement (or reluctance to engage) with mental health services by these groups, there is little equivalent research on their engagement with other services such as primary health provision, employment assistance, income support or housing services. It may be that these young people are able to access whatever help they need in these areas through informal channels such as family, church and wider community but a few pieces of research suggest that these channels may not be helpful, or sufficient, for all: for example, work by Evolve (2005 [E47]) suggests that young African women in Wellington may experience problems with a lack of access to appropriate health information, resources, support and education, and Cheung et al. (2004 [H9]) suggest that much more needs to be known about alcohol and drug usage and related services among young Asians.
Because of the vulnerability of those needing help, the dense and complex networks of relationships within migrant communities, and the importance of culturally appropriate responses to specific needs, this area of service provision, perhaps more than any other research field, requires researchers with excellent understandings of the cultural worlds of young refugees and migrants. Research in this field could usefully explore and evaluate both mainstream services and those that are intended as specialist services for refugees and migrants, with a view to identifying whether the needs of young refugees and migrants are being met, and if they are not, how these needs might best be met.
Identity and participation
In relation to the Strategy goals about ethnic identity and participation, it is in the latter rather than the former field that gaps are most obvious. As has already been noted, there is a growing body of research on identity in which researchers who are themselves the children of migrants or refugees are exploring the experiences of being a young migrant or refugee in New Zealand, but there is not a great deal of research about the safe expression of this identity through participation in civic, social and community activities, nor about such participation by these young people generally. These are areas in which more work is needed, particularly in the light of the few projects that have been done that suggest that some young refugees and migrants do not feel safe expressing their ethnic identity outside their own communities.
Such work could usefully address the ways in which wider New Zealand society engages with young refugees and migrants. To what extent are these young people able to participate in civic, social and community activities and how can this participation take place in ways that enable them to express their own ethnic identity, if they wish to do so? The importance of social inclusion as a two-way process of adaptation and adjustment on the part of immigrants and their host societies is signalled by these questions. How can New Zealand as a host society respond to these young people in ways that enhance their settlement outcomes and levels of social inclusion? How can these young people be given space and opportunity to make their own response and to engage with New Zealand society in ways that enhance their social inclusion and successful settlement?
This latter question raises a further issue that would be a fruitful aspect of this research, namely, how can the skills and capabilities that young refugees and migrants bring to New Zealand be recognised and enhanced to enable them to contribute to their own and their wider communities?
Finally, how can the research community find ways to encourage young refugees and migrants to be involved as researchers themselves in work that looks to address and enhance their social inclusion in New Zealand society?
 There are over three times that number of references relating to young migrants.