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Health Promot J Austr. 2011 Aug;22(2):107-12.

An ethnographic process evaluation of a community support program with Sudanese refugee women in western Sydney.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of NSW.



Through the humanitarian entrant program, a rapidly growing community of Sudanese refugees are resettling in Australia. Although the impact of pre-migration trauma upon refugee mental health is well established, there is a paucity of research exploring the impact of post-migration sociocultural factors. Women are often the most marginalised, which affects their mental health and ability to adjust in resettlement.


An ethnographic study was conducted to evaluate a Sudanese women's group exercise program designed from a community development strengths-based model. Qualitative analysis of a group interview and ethnographic process evaluation techniques enabled a deeper understanding of the perspectives of Sudanese women in Australia and their resettlement difficulties and needs.


Participants (n=12) viewed the program positively due to educational components and the opportunity for respite. Transport and childminding support were seen as vital. Interview and evaluation processes were perceived as ineffectual. Key stressors raised include: acculturation, housing difficulties, developing language skills, lack of employment opportunities and family separation.


It is vital that any attempts to address these issues are sustainable, aiming to empower the women and promote their existing strengths and resilience techniques. Research specific to cultural and ethnic groups of refugee women in an Australian context enables tailoring of appropriate support services, but can be tiresome for participants.

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