Getting a secure job is critical for migrants to settle successfully in a new country. With Australia welcoming record numbers of permanent and temporary migrants, our research continues to provide insights to shape employment policy and services for migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum.

Our research focuses on the lived experiences of migrants in their search for work and economic security. We investigate policies and service models that can assist migrant workers to get into and stay in the labour market, and examine the roles and responsibilities of community organisations, different tiers of government, and employers. We aim to understand enablers and constraints on migrants’ labour force participation, and opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship.

New website

Youth Lens: education and employment perspectives of young people from refugee backgrounds

Young people from refugee backgrounds in the City of Hume took photographs to shed light on their experiences of education or employment.

View the Youth Lens website »

New report

Building bridges to work: final report on the Given the Chance for Asylum Seekers program

This program acted as a ‘bridge’ to employment for asylum seekers, circumventing some of the challenges of constrained visa conditions and barriers in mainstream recruitment.

Read more »

Recent publications


Humanitarian migrants, work and economic security in the urban fringe

In partnership with La Trobe University, the Brotherhood conducted research into local employment issues for refugees in the City of Hume. 

Read more »


Giving asylum seekers a chance: insights from a pilot employment program

This study examined what is needed to overcome the disadvantage faced by asylum seekers when competing in the labour market.

Read more »


Political language about 'boat people'

How has political language about ‘boat people’ changed in Australia in recent decades? What do the changes mean? Recent research examined official language and especially Hansard records of parliamentary debates for three periods: 1977–79, 1999–2001, and 2011–13.

Read the Melbourne Social Equity Institute seminar presentation by John van Kooy, Liam Magee and Shanthi Robertson Boat people and borders: changing political debate on asylum seekers (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Work remains a mirage for skilled but stymied asylum seekers

The world is still struggling to find constructive responses to people who have fled persecution and war. John van Kooy's article highlights the practical challenge of assisting asylum seekers to find appropriate employment in Australia.


Refugee women as entrepreneurs in Australia

Setting up a small business may be a decision made by refugee women out of necessity due to labour market barriers, as much as out of ambition or ‘entrepreneurship’. John van Kooy has examined the push and pull factors which may influence the women to become entrepreneurs, and the elusiveness of commercial success.


Research event

From surviving to thriving: work and economic security for refugees and asylum seekers

University of Melbourne, 7 December 2016

This multidisciplinary research forum was hosted by the Brotherhood's Research & Policy Centre in partnership with the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and The Australian Sociological Association.

Read more about the program and proceedings ››

Contact Dina Bowman dbowman(at)bsl.org.au to find out more about this work.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes