Negotiating Identity and Belonging in a New Space: Opportunities and Experiences of African Youths in South Australia

William Mude, Lillian Mwanri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


This paper was part of a large study that aimed to explore determinants of increased suicides among African youths in South Australia. As part of this larger study, narratives from participants indicated that identity crisis could be a potential determinant of suicide. This paper reports on how African youths negotiate and form identity in Australia. A qualitative inquiry was undertaken with 31 African youths using a focus group and individual interviews. Data analysis was guided by a framework for qualitative research. These youths negotiated multiple identities, including those of race, gender, ethnicity and their origin. ‘Freedom and opportunity’, ‘family relationships’, ‘neither belonging here nor there’ and ‘the ability to cope against the paradox of resourcefulness in Australia’ appeared to be important themes in negotiating individual identities. An opportunity was used to acknowledge privileges available in Australia relative to Africa. However, the extent to which individuals acted on these opportunities varied, affecting a person’s sense of purpose, identity formation and belonging in Australia. The loss of social networks following migration, and cultural differences between African and Australian societies, shaped the experience of belonging and identity formation. These findings are crucial as they indicate the need for policies and practices that consider experiences of youths as they form their identity in Australia. Further studies with large numbers of participants are needed to explore these issues further among African youths in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5484
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • African youths
  • Australia
  • CALD
  • Identity discourse
  • Integration process
  • Resettlement challenges
  • Resilience


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