Engaging Migrant and Refugee Young People with Sexual Health Care: Does Generation Matter More Than Culture?

Jessica R. Botfield, Christy E. Newman, Anthony B. Zwi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Australia are recognised as under-utilising mainstream sexual and reproductive health care. A qualitative study was undertaken in Sydney, Australia, to explore the complexities and opportunities for engaging young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds with sexual and reproductive health information and care. Several rounds of interviews were undertaken with 27 migrant and refugee young people aged 16–24 years. These included an initial semi-structured interview (n = 27) and a follow-up and/or walking interview with a sub-set of participants (n = 9 and n = 15 respectively). A theme of ‘generational difference’ recurred throughout the interviews. Particular ways of talking about age-related differences, including the ‘young generation’ and ‘older generations’, appeared to be deployed as a mechanism for explaining a perceived disjunction between service providers and young people. This group, from a very diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, appeared to be more similar than different when talking about sexual health. They saw themselves as generationally distinct, and commonly positioned ‘older people’ as judgemental and less accepting in relation to sexual health. Migrant and refugee young people may not be fully engaged with, or benefitting from, sexual and reproductive health services, despite a number of service options being available. It is likely that their perceptions and previous experiences, as well as stated preferences for services and service providers, would affect their willingness to engage with services. To enable information and services to better reach young people across the many cultural and linguistic groups living in contemporary Australia, attention must be paid to ensuring they feel included as a member of a ‘young generation’, and ensuring services are inclusive and welcoming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-408
Number of pages11
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Cultural diversity
  • Generations
  • Health services
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Young people

Cite this