Building a New Life in Australia: The longitudinal study of humanitarian migrants

Current project

Building a New Life in Australia is a large longitudinal study that examines how humanitarian migrants settle into a new life in Australia.

Wave 3 data now available
The first three waves of data are available to approved researchers from government, academic institutions and non-profit organisations. Details on how to apply for the BNLA data are available at the Department of Social Services.


Australia has a long tradition of welcoming and settling humanitarian refugees, and migrant communities have contributed significantly to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing. More than13,500 humanitarian migrants (refugees) settle in Australia each year through the Humanitarian Migrant Programme. Forced to leave their homes and country due to armed conflict and/or human rights abuses many of these migrants have suffered significant trauma and are unfamiliar with the language and culture of Australia.  Understanding how humanitarian migrants settle into Australia is critical to ensuring the development of effective policy and program responses.

About the project

Building a New Life in Australia is a long-term research project examining how humanitarian migrants settle into a new life in Australia: it is the first comprehensive study of its kind in more than a decade.

  • Close to 2,400 individuals and families who were granted a permanent humanitarian visa and living in communities around Australia are taking part.
  • The majority of participants are living in Melbourne and Sydney, a small proportion live in regional or rural areas across the country.
  • Participants come from 35 countries with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • 50 languages are spoken in their homes.
  • Study participants are aged between 15 to 83 years.
  • Almost all of them had arrived in Australia in 2013 to start a new life and experienced trauma and persecution before their arrival.
  • Information being collected includes: demography, housing, language proficiency, education, employment and income, pre-migration experiences, health, self-sufficiency, community support, and life satisfaction.

For more information about the study, see: Rioseco, P., De Maio, J. and Hoang, C. (2017), The Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) Dataset: A Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants in Australia. Australian Economic Review, 50: 356–362. doi:10.1111/1467-8462.12234; <>.

See also the BNLA website.