Opening Doors is a pioneering project which offers young immigrants from disadvantaged and refugee backgrounds much needed access to science and technology in Australia. Since its inception in 2012, Opening Doors has worked with young humanitarian immigrants to provide awareness about science and technology education and careers. For a full overview of the project and its on-going activities visit the Opening Doors website.
Australia is a nation dependent upon immigration for its past success and future prosperity says the Asylum Seeker Expert Panel. In March 2011, the Inspiring Australia Expert Working Group tasked with developing an evidence base for science engagement recommended to the Federal Government that,
It is essential to recognise the diversity within and among the Australian public, including non-traditional audiences who are difficult to reach and are usually unengaged with scientific issues, such as…migrant communities and English second-language speakers.
However, the National Audit of Australian Science Engagement Activities (PDF, 5.4 Mb) found that science and technology centres do not offer outreach programmes to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) immigrants. Deprived of mainstream opportunities to participate with science, it is hardly surprising that CALD immigrants, especially those from disadvantaged and refugee backgrounds, remain unengaged with scientific issues in Australia.
Moreover, many young humanitarian immigrants are denied access to science and technology education and career opportunities because settlement programmes offered by the Department of Immigration do not emphasise the important role of science in everyday Australian life.
Opening Doors acknowledges the diversity within and among young migrant groups, especially those from refugee backgrounds. The project evaluates their attitudes and aspirations with regard to Australian scientific culture during their settlement in Australia. Some research questions explored are:
- What role does science communication play in the settlement of humanitarian immigrants in Australia?
- What perceptions and underpinning values control access to Australian science and technology education and careers?
- What are the cultural and institutional boundaries young humanitarian immigrants encounter when acclimatising to science and technology education and careers in Australia?
Dr Sean Perera, Opening Doors project leader and CPAS Research Fellow will be happy to answer any questions about the project.