Engaging Migrant and Refugee Young People with Sexual Health Care: Does Generation Matter More Than Culture?
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Young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Australia are recognised as under-utilising mainstream sexual and reproductive health care. A qualitative study was undertaken in Sydney, Australia, to explore the complexities and opportunities for engaging young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds with sexual and reproductive health information and care. Several rounds of interviews were undertaken with 27 migrant and refugee young people aged 16–24 years. These included an initial semi-structured interview (n = 27) and a follow-up and/or walking interview with a sub-set of participants (n = 9 and n = 15 respectively). A theme of ‘generational difference’ recurred throughout the interviews. Particular ways of talking about age-related differences, including the ‘young generation’ and ‘older generations’, appeared to be deployed as a mechanism for explaining a perceived disjunction between service providers and young people. This group, from a very diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, appeared to be more similar than different when talking about sexual health. They saw themselves as generationally distinct, and commonly positioned ‘older people’ as judgemental and less accepting in relation to sexual health. Migrant and refugee young people may not be fully engaged with, or benefitting from, sexual and reproductive health services, despite a number of service options being available. It is likely that their perceptions and previous experiences, as well as stated preferences for services and service providers, would affect their willingness to engage with services. To enable information and services to better reach young people across the many cultural and linguistic groups living in contemporary Australia, attention must be paid to ensuring they feel included as a member of a ‘young generation’, and ensuring services are inclusive and welcoming.
KeywordsCultural diversity Young people Sexual and reproductive health Generations Health services Australia
We are grateful for the contributions of the young people interviewed, who so willingly shared their views and experiences, as well as for the young people who contributed as part of the Youth Advisory Group convened for the study. Thanks also to the co-investigators (Dr. Alison Rutherford, Dr. Christopher Carmody, Dr. Catriona Ooi, Dr. Melissa Kang, Dr. Mitchell Smith, Dr. Deborah Bateson, Mr. Brendan Crozier and Ms. Katherine Bennett) and partner organisations (High St Youth Health Service, Family Planning NSW, NSW Refugee Health Service, South Western Sydney Sexual Health Service, Sydney Sexual Health Centre, and Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre) who contributed to this research. Lastly, we acknowledge UNSW Arts and Social Sciences who contributed some funding towards the fieldwork for this research, as well as the support of an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Author 1 is a doctoral candidate at UNSW Sydney and an employee of the Family Planning NSW Research Centre. Family Planning NSW is a partner organisation for this research. Authors 2 and 3 declare no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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