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Author

Sugam Nepal

Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Rick Sin

Language

English

Abstract

The study explored the settlement challenges of South and South East Asian refugees in the City of Hamilton. This study was undertaken to represent the voices of the marginalized and vulnerable communities such as refugees to be included on settlement related research. The purpose of the study was also to identify issues to suggest directions for future policy planning.

The study concludes that 'settlement' is a narrowly defined concept that fails to incorporate significant aspects of a refugee's life. South and South East Asian refugees face unique barriers and challenges in the process of settlement. The mainstream settlement agencies are not always able to respond to the peculiar needs of ethno-racial refugees, which create a wide gap between the service providers and users. Ethno racial agencies attempted to represent the unique needs of South and South East Asian refugees are often crippled by funding restrictions. These have impacted the overall quality of their services, which are perceived as being broad, general and superficial by the service receiving communities and individuals. Therefore the settlement sector, both mainstream and ethno racial, needs to be sensitized about the unique barriers and challenges faced by the South and South East Asian refugees.

The finding of the study also exemplifies that the discrepancy between policy idea and everyday reality. Although settlement is widely considered as a "two way process" between the mainstream and the ethno-racial minorities, it is more a fallacy in reality. The ethno racial refugees face skin colour racism and systemic discrimination on a daily basis which make their settlement experience overwhelmingly challenging. Participants often are confronted prejudice and non-accommodative attitudes towards their culture, language and customs and live in an atmosphere of hostility and insecurity. The settlement policies, which are meant to help refugees adapt, adjust, and integrate in host society are found discriminatory and insensitive towards their settlement needs. To the participants, settlement is more or less a one way struggle with constant rejection and exclusion from the mainstream community.

To contribute to policy and program changes in the settlement sector, this study also summarizes what could be done from the participants' point of view and identifies specific areas for further research and policy debates.

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