Responding to challenges of misuse of alcohol and other drugs by young people of refugee backgrounds

2013 | Research papers


Foundation House: The Victorian Foundation for the Survivors of Torture


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In 2010 two projects were independently initiated in Western Melbourne, in response to concerns raised by community and local services that mainstream services encountered difficulties engaging young people from refugee backgrounds, especially those considered marginalised and ‘at risk’. The projects were the Brimbank Young Men’s Project established by the Centre for Multicultural Youth and Engaging Youth: Promoting the Wellbeing of Vulnerable Karen Young Men established by the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.

The projects targeted young men, aged approximately 15 to 25 years, from refugee backgrounds, who were disengaged or disengaging from family, community and educational and employment pathways, had been engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol and drug misuse and were becoming marginalised from society. The young men had fallen or were falling through the gap between primary care services and specialist services and seemed to be in the ‘too hard, just won’t engage’ basket or the ‘don’t meet our criteria’ basket.

This report shares reflections from the projects and drawing on the experience of the host organisations and the literature, offers recommendations for the consideration of policy makers, service providers and staff to enable them to engage and work more effectively with young people of refugee backgrounds who may be particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug misuse.


Drug, Alcohol and Addictions, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity