Towards a culturally-appropriate model of collecting demographic data from ethnic minority communities: A case study of the Burundian community census in Queensland
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Black African refugee communities are a relatively recent addition to Australia's multicultural landscape. This immigrant group has been described as one of the most disadvantaged in Australia, requiring high levels of settlement support. Until recently, however, very little was known about the settlement geography of African refugee communities when compared to that of other ethnic minority communities in Australia. The lack of reliable data on population size, spatial distribution and secondary migration has serious implications for policymakers and service providers, who require contemporary, reliable and accurate data to budget, plan and deliver specialised settlement support to these communities. A study of the settlement geography of the eight largest African refugee communities in Southeast Queensland addressed this knowledge gap in that particular geographic location. This article reports on a community-based census, undertaken by Queensland's Burundian community. The results of the community census are compared with data from two of the secondary data sources most commonly used by decision-makers and support services for planning purposes: the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Settlement Database. The results suggest an under-enumeration of the Burundian community in both secondary data sources, as well as differences in patterns of spatial distribution. This article proposes a community census model, based on the Burundian experience, which is a more culturally appropriate and inexpensive method of collecting these important data from new and emerging communities. Data gathered through the model could be used to supplement existing data collection mechanisms. The model could also be replicated by organisations working with new and emerging communities or implemented by the communities themselves.
The Australasian Review of African Studies
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Human Geography not elsewhere classified