Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Impact of E-Skills on the Settlement of Iranian Refugees in Australia

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Impact of E-Skills on the Settlement of Iranian Refugees in Australia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Our society encounters many changes over time and, as a consequence, demands new skills of its members. The Internet is one of those changes that, because of the massive increase of digital information available, plays an important communication role. As a result, our digital society has become more dependent on the information provided by the Internet, so computer and Internet skills (digital literacy) are of vital consideration (Rana, 2017; Scarcelli & Riva, 2017; van Deursen & van Dijk, 2011; Yu, Lin, & Liao, 2017). However, while digital literacy is important for society as a whole, it is particularly crucial for refugees settling into a new country and thus removed from their previous communication channels. It is, therefore, appropriate to study how modern technology assists refugees in the establishment and maintenance of social relations across the boundaries of homeland and hostland (Wahlbeck, 2002).

Defining human migration is a complex undertaking. The study of human mobility has caught the attention of scholars in social sciences, including the study of migrants' and refugees' settlements in their respective host countries (Tsagarousianou, 2004). According to Sinha (2005), there has not been an explanation of migration that is capable of covering all aspects of the scales of local, regional, national, and international migration and that could be acceptable universally. Lee (1966) defines migration as a change of residence, whether this change is temporary or permanent, regardless of any limitation in distance or whether the move has been forced or voluntary. Eisenstadt (1953) defines it as the physical move of an individual from one society to another. Bernard (1976) divides humans' movements into two sections, depending on the reasons for their movements. While he believes that moving from one place to another is humans' "age-old characteristic," those who move by choice are voluntary immigrants while those who move because they are forced to are refugees. According to Bernard, immigration as individual movements has only been a recent phenomenon; immigrants decide by themselves to plan and move, whereas involuntary migration is based on terror and fear. What is important to note is the distinction that voluntary immigrants make a confident choice of moving to a better country, with plenty of time to plan their migration "practically, psychologically and systematically" and therefore have time to gain such skills as competency in the language of the hostland as well as other skills that may help them to settle faster (Tribe, 2002, p.241). However, involuntary immigrants flee their home country in a hurry and do not have time for any immigration planning.

As part of a satisfactory settlement, refugees want to have opportunities to establish themselves in their new country. This is greatly dependent on the host country's tolerance of other cultures and whether it is a homogeneous or a multicultural country. Although refugees' backgrounds and their "cultural preferences" along with "social, political and personal factors" play significant roles for their satisfactory settlement (Colic-Peisker, 2009), refugees' level of satisfaction does not solely depend on these, as the host country also has a part to play at both the government and social level. For example, if the community is hospitable, it is much easier for refugees to integrate. The hospitality of the host country is seen to empower the refugees' sense of self-worth and dignity, assist them in finding housing and employment, become financially independent from governmental assistance, and gain full control of their own destiny.

Australia had a "white" policy since the establishment of its federation on 1 January 1901; that is, it effectively banned non-European immigrants. However, this policy was gradually phased out after World War II and the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 ensured that migration selection based on race was unlawful. …

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