Predictors of Secondary School Completion Among Refugee Youth 8 to 9 Years After Resettlement in Melbourne, Australia

  • Ignacio Correa-VelezEmail author
  • Sandra M. Gifford
  • Celia McMichael
  • Robyn Sampson


Being able to attend school and achieve an education is one of the most desired opportunities among resettled refugee young people. However, turning educational aspirations into reality is not straightforward. There is a large body of research documenting the barriers associated with educational achievement among refugees who resettle as teenagers, both in Australia and internationally. No studies, however, have identified the factors that predict completion of secondary school among resettled refugee youth over time. This paper reports the predictors of completion of secondary school among a cohort of 47 refugee youth resettled in Melbourne, Australia. Eight to 9 years after resettlement, 29 (62 %) had completed secondary school and 18 (38 %) had left school prior to completing year 12. Age on arrival and experiences of discrimination in Australia were significant predictors of secondary school completion. Older refugee youth (on arrival) and those who reported experiences of discrimination over the first 8 to 9 years in Australia were significantly less likely to complete secondary school. This longitudinal study confirms that, as a group, refugee youth are particularly at risk of not completing secondary school education, which can have an impact on their wellbeing and long-term socio-economic standing in their settlement country. Our study provides further evidence of the negative impact of discrimination on the educational outcomes of disadvantaged young people.


Refugees Youth Education Secondary school Settlement Discrimination Longitudinal 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the young people who participated in the study, the staff from the English Language Schools, and the research team. Funding for the first 4 years of the Good Starts study was provided by VicHealth, Foundation House (VFST), Sydney Myer Fund, William Buckland Foundation, La Trobe University and, for the 8/9-year follow-up, by the Australian Research Council (DP120101579).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical clearance was provided by La Trobe University Human Ethics Committee, the Institutional Ethics Committee of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (a partner of the study) and the Victorian Department of Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Health and Social Work, and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI)Queensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia
  2. 2.The Swinburne Institute for Social ResearchSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia
  3. 3.School of Humanities and Social SciencesLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia
  4. 4.School of Geography, Faculty of ScienceThe University of MelbourneCarltonAustralia

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