Refugees at work: The preventative role of psychosocial safety climate against workplace harassment, discrimination and psychological distress

Ali Afsharian, Maureen Dollard, Emily Miller, Teresa Puvimanasinghe, Adrian Esterman, Helena De Anstiss, Tahereh Ziaian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


It is widely recognised that employment is vital in assisting young refugees’ integration into a new society. Drawing on psychosocial safety climate (PSC) theory, this research investigated the effect of organisational climate on young refugee workers’ mental health (psychological dis-tress) through stressful social relational aspects of work (e.g., harassment, discrimination). Drawing on data from 635 young refugees aged between 15 and 26 in South Australia, 116 refugees with paid work were compared with 519 refugee students without work, and a sample of young workers from Australian Workplace Barometer (AWB) data (n = 290). The results indicated that refugees with paid work had significantly lower psychological distress compared with refugees with no paid work, but more distress than other young Australian workers. With respect to workplace harassment and abuse, young refugee workers reported significantly more harassment due to their ongoing interaction and engagement with mainstream Australian workers compared with unemployed refugees. Harassment played a vital role in affecting psychological health in refugees (particularly) and other young workers. While refugee youth experienced harassment at work, overall, their experiences suggest that their younger age upon arrival enabled them to seek and find positive employment outcomes. Although PSC did not differ significantly between the employed groups, we found that it likely negatively influenced psychological distress through the mediating effects of harassment and abuse. Hence, fostering pathways to successful employment and creating safe work based on high PSC and less harassment are strongly recommended to improve refugees’ mental health and adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10696
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Harassment
  • Psychological demands
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychosocial safety climate


Dive into the research topics of 'Refugees at work: The preventative role of psychosocial safety climate against workplace harassment, discrimination and psychological distress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this