Employment Aspirations of Former Refugees Settled in Australia: a Mixed Methods Study

  • Aparna HebbaniEmail author
  • Nigar G. Khawaja


The present study used a mixed method approach to understand the employment related aspirations of former refugees from Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Myanmar, resettled in Australia. Aspiration was defined as the difference between the current and future aspired job. First, a quantitative approach was used with 222 participants, who completed a questionnaire with the help of interpreters. Analysis of variance was used to examine if the aspirations varied on the basis of the country of origin. Participants from DRC and Myanmar had higher aspirations than those from Ethiopia. Graphic data indicated that in general all three groups aspired for professional and managerial jobs. Second, using a qualitative approach, 47 former refugees from these three countries were interviewed. Thematic analysis indicated that, in general, many participants wanted to pursue their own business. Moreover, a range of obstacles in achieving these goals also became apparent. Limited English language proficiency, lack of information about how to secure these jobs, and personal and family members’ ill health interfered in participants’ ability to secure their aspired job. Lastly, we offer a few recommendations for relevant stakeholders.


Australia Ethiopia Congo Myanmar Aspirations Mixed method Employment Refugees 



The authors would like to thank the research assistants (Mairead MacKinnon, Dr. Yulin Liu, Lorena Hernandez, & Jane Wotherspoon) and partner organization (Access Community Services Ltd.) employees in the data collection process.

Funding information

This research project is supported by a 2-year Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant LP120200076.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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