Young refugees who participate in a soccer program designed to improve social cohesion say they have a significantly stronger appreciation of Australia and a greater sense of belonging, a UNSW study shows.
UNSW Chancellor David Gonski AC has launched the report at UNSW, saying the program is a tangible example of the university’s multi-cultural focus and support for research on social change.
Football United founding director Anne Bunde-Birouste, from UNSW Medicine’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine, says the research found 84 per cent of refugee youth reported feeling better after participating in the program.
“They also showed a significantly stronger appreciation of their new country and feelings of belonging to Australian society, and boys in the study had significantly higher scores on pro-social behaviour – compared with those in schools where the program is not available,” Ms Bunde-Birouste says.
The report recommends governments and communities develop sports-based and related programs that run weekly for at least two terms and offer multiple opportunities to participate at different levels.
“Programs need to meet the individual needs of the community, offer something beyond playing opportunities and provide a safe, supported and structure environment for participation in sports within schools,” Ms Bunde-Birouste says.
An SBS report on the program can be viewed here.