In Australia, it can be difficult for refugee and migrant women to find paid work, manage money and effectively access financial services. Economic participation can include running a small business, taking part in training or education, and interacting with agencies and services about bills, fines, concession allowances, welfare benefits, and taxation. Women’s ability to understand and use Australian financial systems and services has a significant impact on their economic participation, as well as their health, safety and wellbeing. Refugee and migrant women often encounter additional barriers to economic participation because of limited English, poor access to education and training, and a lack of affordable alternative care for children or family members (a responsibility usually held by women).
Between June and December 2015, Women’s Health West and Victoria University undertook a research project to better understand how refugee and migrant women are affected by difficulties finding paid work, managing money and dealing with financial services. We asked them about their experiences of economic participation and difficulties they face in Australia, and what services and programs are needed to assist them with accessing employment, education and financial security. We also spoke to community service workers.
This is a summary of the research findings and actions needed to increase refugee and migrant women’s economic participation.