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Trust vital for migrant support: Australian Red Cross report

Australian Red Cross 3 mins read

A new report by Australian Red Cross is shedding light on the experiences of migrants, who they trust to provide humanitarian services, and how humanitarian actors and government can better work together to meet their needs.

The Trust in Humanitarian Action: Migrants’ Perspectives report, released today at the start of Refugee Week, reflects insights gained from the Australian contribution to the global Red Cross Red Crescent study on the same topic, and found 62 per cent of study participants said they feel safety and hope when they see the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblems.

Australian Red Cross Head of Migration, Nicole Batch, said the aim of the research is to better understand trust and how humanitarian actors can build trust with people in often extremely vulnerable situations.

“The research explores who migrants, including refugees and people seeking asylum, trust, and how this affects their ability and willingness to seek humanitarian protection and assistance at different stages of their journeys, from country of origin, through transit, and at their destination,” Ms Batch said.

“Importantly, the report shows that migrants trust Red Cross to treat them with respect, dignity and humanity and to contribute to their safety and well-being.

“The report does highlight broader unmet humanitarian needs in the sector however, with 41 per cent of participants saying they did not receive support or assistance once in Australia.

“This included 33 per cent of participants who said they did not know what humanitarian assistance was available, and a further 36 per cent who said there was either no support available, or they were ineligible for support.”

Ms Batch said the study shows migrants benefit when government and humanitarian actors work together with migrants, to identify needs and work together on solutions.

“The report is clear that building trust and reducing vulnerabilities means placing migrants at the centre,” Ms Batch said.

“Migrants benefit from a collaborative approach that involves them in the process and allows them to help assist in identifying gaps and coming up with solutions.

“Listening and responding to the perspectives and experiences of migrants is in itself the best way to build trust.

“For example, through this study we listened to nearly 100 migrants and heard some incredibly valuable insights, including from Elizabeth* who said, ‘People arrive on certain types of visas, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Just because we arrived on a different [non-humanitarian] visa doesn’t mean there wasn’t trauma. It would’ve meant so much if there was anything – ‘welcome to Australia’, at least some information to find out how the community works, how do I get involved in anything (e.g. volunteering). You eventually learn this on your own in time.  It felt like it was just us, people couldn’t understand my accent. I felt like there was a wall around us. There wasn’t a community centre. There was no support for my brother or for people from non-English speaking backgrounds. My family were all in different stages of life, different circumstances. We were all trying to connect to this new place, without support networks, without any information.’

“Listening to migrants directly also enables humanitarian organisations to better understand where gaps and needs exist and how to adapt assistance and protection to ensure it responds to the needs of the most vulnerable.”

Australian Red Cross conducted the study using online and in-person surveys, in-depth interviews and a focus group. Participants live in both urban and regional centres and their stories reflect their experiences of their journeys to Australia, and of living in Australia for one year or more.

The report, Migrants Perspectives: Building Trust in Humanitarian Action, was produced by Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab, hosted by the Australian Red Cross, with 15 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from Argentina, Australia, Finland, France, the Gambia, Honduras, Maldives, Mali, Niger, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Türkiye and Zambia surveying or interviewing almost 17,000 migrants.

To access the report, visit:

* Not her real name

Contact details: or Rachel Tharratt 0451 135 969 

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