Prevention is better than cure: Can education prevent refugees’ legal problems?

This project investigated whether the legal and financial problems of refugees could be prevented if refugees were given more information about common legal problems before they arrived in Australia or earlier in the settlement process. The objective was to find gaps in information about legal and financial issues provided to refugees before departure to Australia and during the first six months after arrival, and to identify opportunities and strategies to provide legal information to refugees, in order to prevent common legal problems. A secondary goal of the project was to document the settlement system to further help Community Legal Centres (CLCs) and other organizations. To collect data, the author conducted interviews with refugees, as well as workers at various settlement agencies in Australia to discuss legal and financial problems experienced by refugees. She also attended training sessions for teachers who provide Australian cultural orientations to refugees before they leave the refugee camps, as well as visiting two refugee camps in Thailand and Kenya. The report highlights opportunities for CLCs to provide better legal education including how and when that education should take place.