Towards Better Integration: Qualitative Study on Perceptions of Russian-Speaking Immigrants in Australia
This research conducted in response to one of the most pressing questions on agenda of many government offices: ‘What could be done for a better assimilation and integration of immigrants into hosting communities?’. In the author’s view, the answer could be suggested by immigrants themselves. They, often 'bogged down in the past,’ snared by own idols and demons, perceive things differently which, in turn, may result in their inability to integrate smoothly into hosting communities. Brief literature review suggests that perceptions of immigrants are completely neglected or something unthought in the current research on migrants which often based on opinion polls by members of hosting communities themselves or superficial research data by various research organizations. Even those specimens that include voices of immigrants, unlikely to shed any additional light on the problem simply because certain things are not made to speak out loud, especially to those, in whose hands immigrants’ fate is (authorities). In this regard, this qualitative study, conducted by an insider to a few Russian-speaking communities, represents a unique opportunity for all stakeholder to look at the question of integration through eyes of immigrants themselves thus, making research findings especially valuable. Case study research employed ethnographic methods of gathering data where, approximately 200 Russian-speaking immigrants of first and second generations were closely observed by Russian-speaking researcher in their natural settings, for eight months, and at different venues. Number of informal interviews with 21 key informants, whom researcher managed to establish a good rapport with and who were keen enough to share their experiences voluntarily, were conducted. The field notes were taken at 14 locations (study sites) within Brisbane region of Queensland, Australia. Moreover, all this time, researcher lived in dwelling of one of the immigrants and was an active participant in the social life (worship, picnics, dinners, weekend schools, concerts, cultural events, social gathering, etc.) of observed communities, whose members, to a large extend, belong to various religious lines of the Russian and Protestant Church. It was found that most of the immigrants had experienced some sort of discrimination in matters of hiring, recognition of their educational qualifications from home countries and simply, felt a sort of dislike from society in everyday communication. Many noted complete absences of any state support in terms of employment, training, and housing. For instance, Australian Government Department of Human Services not only does not stimulate a job search, but on contrary, encourages to refuse a short-term works. On the other hand, the free courses on adaptation and English language proved to be ineffective and unpopular. There are also some overstated requirements for language and local work experience whereas it is not critical. Based on observations, the researcher also had courage to assert the negative and decelerating roles of the communities on integration and assimilation processes. Research findings suggest government either to change the migration policy in the direction of toughening or to take more proactive and responsible roles in dealing with this issue as well as to increase support to all immigrants.