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Individuals of refugee background resettled in regional and rural Australia: A systematic review of mental health research

Hawkes, C, Norris, K ORCID: 0000-0003-3661-2749, Joyce, J and Paton, D 2021 , 'Individuals of refugee background resettled in regional and rural Australia: A systematic review of mental health research' , Australian Journal of Rural Health , pp. 1-15 , doi: 10.1111/ajr.12785.

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Introduction:The Australian Government aims to increase the number of individuals on humanitarian resettlement visas allocated to regional locations to 50% bythe year 2022. A significant issue with this, given the substantive body of researchidentifying that refugee populations face chronic mental health concerns during resettlement, is the lack of health-related research focusing on the resettlement of individuals of refugee background to rural and regional locations in Australia, especiallyin the area of mental health.Objective: To provide a foundation for rectifying this omission, this review is thefirst to synthesise mental health research focusing on individuals of refugee background specifically resettled to rural and regional locations in Australia.Design: The review was conducted in line with the Preferred Reporting Items forSystematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline. Findings were synthesised using thematic analytic techniques.Findings: 14 relevant studies (3 quantitative, one mixed-method, 10 qualitative)were identified. Findings indicated that individuals of refugee background resettledin rural and regional Australia not only experienced higher levels of psychologicaldistress than the general population but also had significant difficulty and limited options when accessing mental health services. Furthermore, resettlement in rural andregional locations increased the risk of experiencing many interrelated factors associated with adverse mental health outcomes and distress, including very limited accessto support services, with the latter being identified as vital for well-being.Conclusion: This review highlights the disparity between the Australian Government‘spolicies and plans regarding regional resettlement, what is happening on the ground,and identifies key gaps in research and practice which must be addressed.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hawkes, C and Norris, K and Joyce, J and Paton, D
Keywords: Australia, mental health, refugee, resettlement review, rural
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Rural Health
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
ISSN: 1038-5282
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/ajr.12785
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© 2021 National Rural Health Alliance Ltd

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