Phillipa Bellemore.

BSW (UNSW), MAdultEd (UTS), MRes (MQ)

Welcome to my blog. I am a PhD student at Macquarie University in the Department of Sociology and my supervisors are Associate Professor Amanda Wise and Dr Kristine Aquino. You may think with my greying hair that I’ve aged quickly in my time as a student ☺ but in fact I’ve come into study after many years of work as a social worker and educator.

Who is this blog for?

This blog is for:

Academics and students who are interested in refugee mentoring/befriending relationships, research with refugees, everyday multiculturalism, contact theory, trust and friendship.

Policy workers who want to examine how to build stronger relationships between the receiving communities and refugees and asylum seekers.

Media who want a more in-depth insight into refugee mentoring and its potential

My passion is refugee mentoring. I managed a refugee mentoring program in Sydney for ten years and I have also run children’s, youth and staff mentoring programs.  The reason I moved into masters then into doctoral study was to further explore the potential and complexities of refugee mentoring. My experience of refugee mentoring was that it could be very powerful but that it also has a dark side. I want to articulate the implicit understandings of mentoring and move beyond the romanticised portrait often painted by enthusiastic program workers. I fell into this trap myself. I think a lot of practitioners highlight the positives of their work rather than engaging in the complexity of experiences. We do this for a host of reasons including being busy and not taking time to reflect deeply on our work, funding justifications and wanting to showcase our outstanding cases. It’s rare to speak to a program maker who speaks of failures.

While there are resources in the “grey literature” mainly in the form of program evaluations, there are limited academic articles and resource on refugee mentoring and limited theoretical work on refugee mentoring. So, there is a research gap to fill!

My PhD question
What is the capacity of refugee mentoring to welcome refugee, build social capital and assist settlement?

Current status of research
In 2016 I am undertaking fieldwork in three urban areas of Australia, studying three refugee mentor programs. I am employing a mixed methodology using surveys, focus groups, observation of training and mentor social events, photovoice and interviews with mentors and mentees. I will be asking refugees to take photos of places they visit with their mentors and spaces they feel safe. Interpreters will be used where necessary and I will be seeing them as key informants rather than passive transmitters of language and objective observors. One of my aims is to privilege and listen to the voice of refugees with limited English who so often are muted in research. The question of how I “listen” is critical to my research.
I will be regularly updating my thoughts on my work in progress on this website. I welcome any comments or feedback you would like to make. Check back in and share my research journey.

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