Doing a multicultural youth census

Australia’s young people today are more mobile and culturally diverse than ever before. While this brings many advantages, multicultural young people face challenges that are not well understood by the community or government, such as discrimination, intergenerational conflict and economic insecurity. This presentation reflects on an Australian Research Council-funded Linkage Project which sets out to conduct the first ‘census’ of Australia’s multicultural youth. The Multicultural Youth Australia census aims to provide benchmark data across three interconnected cultural, economic and social indicators.

Data from the first iteration of this study suggests these young people face high levels of racism and discrimination. However, despite these experiences of cultural and social exclusion, the study finds surprising levels of optimism among refugee and migrant youth. And while many of these young people face significant barriers to participation in the labour market, they are highly engaged in a range of other institutional, commercial and community spaces.  This paper examines how we might understand the forms of participation that enable this optimism. At the same time, it draws attention to the limits of the survey instrument for categorising and researching this cohort of young people. While official discourses of multiculturalism have a long history in Australia, they have also been critiqued for simplifying categories of identity (Ang 2011; Noble 2011), and reinforcing hierarchies between White Australia and its others (Hage 2000). Despite these problems, the term continues to have currency. This presentation will consider the usefulness and limits of drawing from this governmental discourse in conducting research with refugee and migrant youth.

Presented by Dr Rimi Khan, Dr Babak Dadvand & Professor Johanna Wyn, University of Melbourne

Dr Rimi Khan is a Research Fellow with the Research Unit in Public Cultures and the Youth Research Centre at The University of Melbourne. Her research interests include arts and cultural policy, multiculturalism, alternative cultural economies.

Dr Babak Dadvand is a researcher with the Youth Research Centre.His research focuses on the impacts that policies and practices of educational institutions have on young people from socio-economically marginalized backgrounds.

Professor Johanna Wyn is aRedmond Barry Distinguished Professor in the Youth Research Centre and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia and the Academy of Social Sciences, UK.