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Newly-funded ARC research to investigate impacts of social service provision on migrant communities

Newly-funded ARC research to investigate impacts of social service provision on migrant communities

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has announced funding for a range of projects under the Linkage Program scheme, including one led by ADI Director Professor Fethi Mansouri and Dr Matteo Vergani.

The provision of social services in multicultural societies is a major factor in immigrants’ integration experiences, but it remains under-researched. A new project led by Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri and Dr Matteo Vergani, Mapping Social Services Provision for Diverse Communities, has received an Australian Research Council Grant to investigate this important area.

Dr Matteo Vergani

Professor Fethi Mansouri

Alongside Ms Joumanah El Matrah, from the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre For Human Rights Inc., the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Professor Mansouri and Dr Vergani will investigate social services delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups. The project seeks to determine how to improve the social inclusion of migrant communities through the effective provision of social services.

This new Linkage project will systematically map the provision and impact of delivery modes of health, social and employment services to migrant groups in diverse areas of Melbourne and Sydney. There is some evidence that delivery of these social services are increasingly being mainstreamed, with large mainstream organisations delivering services to smaller, needs-specific communities, however little evidence exists on the shift of delivery modes or the effect it is having on communities.

“There is growing debate around how best to engage with cultural and religious diversity, which raises serious policy challenges for governments in multicultural societies like Australia. These challenges pertain to the need to support diversity and multiculturalism without undermining the principles of national citizenship and social cohesion,” Professsor Mansouri said.

“This project will address the challenges governments face and generate the first evidence-based assessment of the impact of mainstreaming of services in Australia, focusing on its potential implications for human rights, social cohesion and citizenship.”

Using quantitative and qualitative methods, including interviews in with CALD community members, service providers, policy makers and local government stakeholders, the project will generate robust data that can inform government policies aimed at delivering the best possible services to CALD communities in Australia.

Dr Vergani described the project as “using innovative methodologies and research design to study a real key issue of contemporary Australia: the impact of different service provision models among diverse communities. We want to answer the question: what is the best way, and who is best suited, to deliver social services to diverse communities?

“We’re using diverse methods, from visual methodologies and in-depth interviews to survey questionnaires collected using respondent-driven sampling methods, which will produce a nuanced and rigorous understanding of how diverse communities experience service provision and contribute to improve social inclusion, better services and wellbeing for our diverse communities.”

Through understanding the experiences of CALD communities when social services are mainstreamed, and the likely impact on users of these services in diverse communities, this project is expected to inform debate about optimal funding arrangements for service provision and ultimately result in a more inclusive society.

The Linkage Program promotes national and international research partnerships between researchers and business, industry, community organisations and other publicly funded research agencies.


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