Supporting young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds: The National Youth Settlement Framework

Content type
Short article

October 2016


Nadine Liddy

Young people from refugee or migrant backgrounds have enormous potential, but face many challenges in accessing the support and opportunities they need to navigate the demands of settling in a new country.

One in four young people in Australia are from a refugee or migrant background1. These young people are bright, motived and ready to contribute to Australian society. Their engagement as active citizens can have significant and long-term benefits, and not just for them as individuals, but for their families, communities, and a diverse and socially cohesive Australia. However, this group of young people often face challenges accessing the support they need to settle well in their new home, Australia. The settlement process is complex and can be highly stressful, and its challenges can be compounded by the developmental stage of adolescence. 

We know that young people experience the settlement journey differently to adults and commonly face additional and more complex transitions than young people born in Australia, but just what are the transition challenges for refugee and migrant young people? 

Commonly, settlement challenges include:

  • learning a new language and negotiating unfamiliar education and employment pathways (sometimes with a history of disrupted or no formal education)
  • understanding and negotiating a new culture
  • establishing new peer networks
  • navigating unfamiliar and complex social systems and laws
  • negotiating new or changed family structures, roles and responsibilities
  • building social capital in the Australian context

The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN Australia) has developed the National Youth Settlement Framework to support a targeted and consistent approach to addressing the needs of young people in the settlement context. Launched in May 2016, the document supports an evidence-based approach to good practice. MYAN Australia is also delivering national training to align with the Framework – Australia’s first national guide to youth settlement policy and service delivery.

Why develop the National Youth Settlement Framework?

Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds need targeted support to successfully negotiate their transition to Australian life. Their success as active and engaged participants in all aspects of society is dependent on the ability of policy makers and service providers to design and deliver services and programs targeted to meet their needs. The Framework has been developed to help do this.

Informed by national consultations with young people, the government and non-government sectors, the Framework is designed for those engaged in policy development and service planning and delivery. It is intended to have broad application across a diversity of sectors including settlement, health, education, training and employment, housing, justice and sport and recreation.

What is the National Youth Settlement Framework?

Good youth settlement is understood as active citizenship, where young people receive targeted support to become active and engaged members of Australian society. The Framework enables services to respond more effectively to the specific needs of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds – providing the basis for achieving good settlement outcomes. 

A set of eight good practice capabilities underpin the Framework, providing guidance on facilitating good settlement at the service delivery level. The Framework’s supplementary resources and guides also assist organisations to assess and apply the good practice capabilities and active citizenship indicators. 

How will the National Youth Settlement Framework be implemented?

Implementation of the NYSF will be supported by the MYAN’s sector development work, including national training between August and November 2016 and the ongoing development of additional resources.

MYAN Australia will work with government and the NGO sectors to support the implementation of the Framework., the integration of the Framework into policy, program planning, as well as service delivery within federal, state and local governments. 

The MYAN will also provide additional, targeted training and support for organisations to position the Framework into policy and service delivery, and will work with state government departments to support and monitor this implementation.

The National Youth Settlement Framework, including its supplementary resources, is available for free download on the MYAN website.


1. Centre for Multicultural Youth. (2014). The CALD Youth Census Report 2014: The First Australian Census Data Analysis of Young People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds. Carlton, Victoria: CMY

Feature image supplied by the author.