Evacuated Afghan refugees feel safe and welcome – survey
Afghan refugees evacuated to Australia amid the Taliban’s takeover of their homeland overwhelmingly feel safe, supported and optimistic about their futures, a new survey has found.
But they have grave fears for loved ones still in Afghanistan and they worry about finding a job in Australia, the survey found.
Commissioned by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia, the survey canvased the attitudes of 103 Afghan refugee families, who are part of around 4000 Afghans airlifted out of Kabul by US-led coalition air forces in mid and late August.
Most of the refugees spent at least a week at military camps in Dubai before being flown into Australia to complete hotel quarantine during September.
More than 91 per cent of survey respondents said they felt ‘welcome and supported’ after arriving in Australia; and more than 94 per cent said they felt safe.
Asked whether they felt optimistic overall about their future in Australia, more than 90 per cent said they did, just two per cent were not optimistic and about 8 per cent were unsure,
Seventy per cent of respondents said one of their greatest hopes for the future was getting a job, 66 per cent said it was seeing their children educated and 67 per cent said they wanted to bring extended family to Australia.
Asked about their biggest challenges and fears about life in Australia, 69 per cent said it was ‘bringing relatives to safety’, 61 per cent said it was finding a job and half cited ‘learning English’; forty-six per cent of respondents had fears about the cost of living in Australia.
A large majority of families, 87.5 per cent, said Australia’s settlement programs were meeting their needs but just 59 per cent government services were easy to access.
All of the respondents said they found ordinary Australians welcoming and 71 per cent said they were getting the information they needed.
Asked if they would consider returning to Afghanistan in the future should things improve there, 42 per cent said ‘no’, 36 per cent said ‘yes’ and 22 per cent were unsure.
Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said that, overall, they were happy with their new lives in Australia, 14 per cent were ‘not sure’ and 8 per cent were not happy.
AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the survey results showed that `overwhelmingly, the evacuated Afghans were relieved and grateful to be in Australia.
“This is a group of people who have suffered significant trauma. They were forced to leave their lives and loved ones behind and flee at short notice,” Ms Scarth said.
“But we can see a degree of resilience coming through in the survey. So many of the Afghan refugees are keen to get on with their lives and to help family members and loved ones left behind in Afghanistan,” she said.
“Despite the awful scenes we all saw from Kabul and the ongoing issues we are seeing playing out in Afghanistan, there is a tremendous sense of hope and strength among this group of people,” Ms Scarth said.
Afghan evacuee ‘Shafiq’, who has had a baby son born since arriving in Melbourne, says he is happy and grateful to be in Australia.
The water and environmental engineer plans to resume his career here in Australia.
“I would like to follow my career here in Australia. I will need to study because the education systems are different,” Shafiq said.
“But for now we are very happy to be here. We have had good support from the Australians Government and AMES. We have everything we need, including nappies and clothes for the baby,” he said.
Shafiq said he was also happy about the opportunities his son would have in Australia.
“My son will be able to have a good education and follow his dreams while also contributing to Australian society,” he said.