Migrants and Occupational Health: A Report

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In its First Main Report (1975) the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty found that about 12% of recently arrived, non-English speaking migrants have incomes below the poverty line after housing costs are considered. It found, furthermore that migrants are more vulnerable as they bear the brunt, in the workplace, of changing economic fortunes. While the great majority of newly arrived migrant families have incomes above the poverty line this has been achieved at a great price, with great efforts being made and great hardship endured. The Commission suggested (though did not substantiate) that periods of economic hardship have a number of long term effects such as higher rates of health problems, mental health problems and accidents, as well as reduced family life and wasted talents. While these effects are suspected there has been little rigorous work in Australia which gathers together and examines the evidence. There have been suggestions that insufficient data on migrant occupational health and safety exists, and that quite a bit of the research which has been done, and which subsequently has become standard in the literature, lacks rigor. This compounded with regular resort to stereotypes built on prejudices has clouded the issues in studies of migrant occupational health and safety. What we do know is that migrants as a group are concentrated in high-risk occupations. In order to better understand the nature and context of the problem, the Social Welfare Research Centre asked the Centre for Multicultural Studies at the University of Wollongong to cast light on the issue by organising a colloquium to be held in Wollongong (the city with the greatest number of at-risk migrant workers) and to review the existing literature as a guide for researchers and practitioners. The colloquium was held in July 1980 and this report provides the guide to the literature. It is not a report which contains original empirical findings, but its great value lies in its detailed and comprehensive review of the state of knowledge about migrant occupational health and safety in Australia.
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Morrissey, Michael
Jakubowicz, Andrew
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UNSW Faculty
download Reports and Proceedings No 3.pdf 3.35 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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