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.

Female participant in community services training

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 project

Humanitarian migrants, work and economic security in the urban fringe 

Increasingly, Australian immigration policy encourages the resettlement of refugees away from the inner city. This creates considerable responsibilities and expectations for local governments, service providers and community organisations to facilitate employment. 

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Recent publications


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 »

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.


Join our research network

RE:WORK – Research network on employment for refugees and people seeking asylum

The Work and Economic Security team convenes a multidisciplinary research network (RE:WORK), which has quarterly face-to-face meetings in Melbourne and an occasional newsletter.

If you are interested in joining the research network, please email John van Kooy.

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 John van Kooy jvankooy(at)bsl.org.au to find out more about this work.

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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.