Integration and social determinants of health and wellbeing for people from refugee backgrounds resettled in a rural town in South Australia: a qualitative study

Anna Ziersch, Emily Miller, Melanie Baak, Lillian Mwanri

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: There has been a recent focus on resettlement of migrants and refugee in rural settings in Australia and elsewhere. Rural resettlement is seen as an opportunity to revitalise rural communities, to fill the needs of employers in these areas, and to provide a welcoming community within which new arrivals can integrate and settle. However, challenges to rural resettlement have been identified including difficulties securing employment, discrimination and social isolation. These challenges can affect resettlement outcomes including health and wellbeing, though relatively little research has examined these links. In this paper we explored experiences of people from refugee background settling in a rural Australian town, examining interconnections between social determinants of health (SDH) and integration. Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 44 participants from Southeast Asia and Africa in a rural setting in South Australia, covering experiences of resettlement and impacts on health and wellbeing. Participants were recruited through existing connections within the community and snowball sampling. Audio recorded data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using framework thematic analysis. Results: The study findings revealed a mixture of settlement experiences for participants across a range of elements of SDH and integration. A sense of safety and some elements of social connectedness and support were key enablers for integration and health and wellbeing, with main challenges including limitations in employment opportunities, mismatched education provision, experiences of discrimination and constrained access to services. Conclusions: Challenges experienced by refugees resettled in rural areas can affect integration, health and wellbeing and subsequent onward migration intentions. Attention to broader socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions, alongside tailored settlement support policies and practices for individual rural resettlement sites, is required to support integration and health and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


  • education
  • employment
  • health
  • housing
  • integration
  • refugee
  • regional
  • resettlement
  • rural
  • social determinants of health
  • well-being


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