Lee-Anne Hall & Monique Huyskens
School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism
University of Technology, Sydney
The research that follows tracks the experiences
of two young refugee women (Latifa and Samia) over a nine month period
following their arrival in Sydney, Australia, February 2001. While we hesitate
to draw general conclusions, their stories reveal much about the resolve of
refugee women in Australia, and the burden of gender in the settlement process.
Following post structural readings we concentrate upon the notion of leisure as a site and space of possibility and renewal for refugee women. Heterotopic space (Foucault 1986) is examined here for its leisure possibilities. Leisure is presented as an opportunity for refugee women to establish themselves in their new community, restore mind and body, develop friendships and new skills.
Our paper includes individual responses to key events in the past year such as the Tampa refugee crisis and the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York. We note how resettlement for each individual relies upon the host country's generosity and the refugee's ability to doggedly grasp opportunities before them.
This paper begins an exploration into the role of leisure in the lives of two young refugee women, Latifa and Samia. It details the first nine months of their settlement in Australia (March - Nov 2001), examining leisure concepts, processes and possible outcomes. These include freedom and constraint, pleasure, joy, social integration and empowerment. Such a process has offered considerable insight into refugee settlement, however we would like to stress that each individual's story and circumstances are unique and hence deserving of discrete consideration.
The shocking statistics which indicate that women and children make up the majority (some 80%) of the world's refugees, make research on the experience of female refugees a priority. (Cernea and McDowell, 2000:2, Ferguson and Pittaway, 1999:1; Pittaway, in Ferguson and Pittaway 1999:1). As refugees women have suffered degrees of trauma, torture and abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), which they carry with them into their new life circumstances. As gatekeepers of family life and culture, women can ill afford to be immobilised by grief and depression. We would suggest here that the capacity to experience pleasure is essential as a means of surviving/overcoming loss, tragedy and fractured lives, indeed for refugees joy must coexists with pain. The capacity to experience pleasure is essential as a means of surviving/overcoming loss, tragedy and fractured lives.
The original proposal (somewhat changed in response to the research itself) was to investigate the functional nature of leisure; as a portal to joyfulness and renewal for refugee women as they attempt to establish new lives in Australia. It was our intention to examine leisure not as therapy, but with an understanding of its therapeutic benefits. By this we intend to suggest the benefits of leisure to be enabling for refugees so that they might '...make the transition from victim to active community member...and individuals discover the continuity between the person they were, the one they are now and the one they will become' (Hosking, 1990:22).
The Ancient Greeks philosophised that leisure was a high and noble state of body, intellect and spirit. It involved a life of contemplation and disciplined attention to music, arts, and athleticism. Leisure for an elite few was supported by the wealth of the State, and the labour of slaves, women and foreigners (Dare et al. 1987). In modern industrial societies where work and economic activity take precedence to most other forms of human activity and labour, the leisure ideal is near impossible to achieve (see de Grazia 1962). Leisure is now understood in its dichotomised relation to work, whereby it has become a privilege to be earned through labour, and a commodity to be purchased and spent in time allotted (Rojek 1985, Clarke and Critcher 1985). Yet, the clue to leisure's true bounty is the recognition that leisure is not merely recreation provided by the marketplace, but a 'state of mind', available to all.
Our freedom to do, and to be, as we wish within leisure is understood as an existential reality, or a 'social space in which we not only retain, but insist on some freedom to choose' (Dumazier in Kelly 1983:5). For most of us leisure exists in the realm of 'relative freedom', whereby our choices are made according to existing constraints; what is possible in each individual circumstance and according to available resources. So, it is in 'relative freedom' that we choose the time and space to undertake activity (active or passive) that is pleasurable, and restorative of the well being of each person.
The constraints to leisure faced by refugees in a resettlement situation are many. They may include available time, levels of disposable income, transport difficulties, family duties and responsibilities, English language proficiency, and a myriad of cultural differences and restrictions. As appears to be the case across society, gender adds a layer of difficulty to each constraint (see Shaw 1994, see also Pittaway 1990). Acknowledgment of such constraints need not discount the crucial and beneficial role leisure has to play in the resettlement process. Following post structural argument regarding subjectivity and human agency (Foucault 1978, Foucault in Dreyfus and Rabinow 1983), leisure may be positioned as a site and space of possibility and renewal for refugee women. These benefits might be stated as:
Herein, Wearing's (1998) reading of heterotopias (Foucault 1986) as a liberating leisure site/space for marginalised populations is adopted for use. For women refugees who exist as both female and alien subjects, leisure may represent new freedoms. It is argued that through leisure refugee women might have the opportunity to explore their creativity, strengths and potential. Through leisure, relationships might be found and nurtured. Through leisure it is possible to escape (for a time) tyrannical situations and daily constants such as work, domestic routines and roles. Through leisure there is the possibility for individuals to positively reconfigure personal identity and subject status. Leisure is presented here as a human capacitator, and specifically, an opportunity for refugee women to establish themselves in their new community, restore mind and body, develop friendships and new skills.
Given the strong argument for leisure's role in psychological well-being, health, development of friendships and expression of social identities (Coleman and Iso-Ahola 1993; Kelly 1983), it is surprising the spareness of related literature. A lack of coherency in the refugee literature may play a part; as Stein noted in 1986 there has been a 'scholarly inattention to refugee problems...despite tens of millions of refugees in this century, refugee research is sporadic, unsystematic, isolated and cursory' (1986: 5/6). While there has certainly been an increase over the last 15 years in refugee research, that which investigates the relationship between leisure and refugee resettlement is both scant and largely piecemeal.
It would appear that the study of refugee leisure and social integration is suffering from a double neglect. Within studies of the resettlement of refugees (in developed countries) leisure is only peripherally studied within a range of broader social aspects and conditions (see, for example, Martin 1965/1972, McKenzie 1986, Gold 1992). At the same time, scholars writing from a leisure studies perspective on immigrant leisure, itself a relatively young research area, while contributing to a broader understanding in this area, have not generally paid attention to the specific circumstances and conditions of refugee leisure. The only leisure-scholars to specifically address the refugee resettlement situation (cf. Rublee and Shaw 1991) limit the research implications of the 'refugee experience' to the inability to return to one's homeland. Yet it goes unsaid that the effect of forced exile together with experiences of trauma and torture, particularly for women, combine to produce unique conditions in the resettlement process for refugees. The meaning of leisure for refugees in a Sudanese camp was examined by Russell and Stage (1996) who conclude that the general Western academic interpretation of leisure is irrelevant in this situation, and rather that leisure (conceptualised as unobligated time) is seen as burden for these refugee women.
|THE RESEARCH PROCESS|
This paper is the result of four formal interviews and numerous informal meetings and conversations (face to face, telephone and e-mail) with two young refugee women (Latifa and Samia) over a period of nine months (March - Nov 2001). It is at this stage a research note. Our research subjects, Latifa and Samia, were assured of anonymity, interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed.
Undertaking research of this nature invokes considerable limitations. Different cultural understandings of the term leisure imposed initial difficulties, as has been noted in other cross-cultural studies of leisure (cf. Juniu 2000; Rublee and Shaw 1991; Tyrone and Shaw 1997). While some of the linguistic difficulties were initially resolved through the use of interpreters, the later interviews were conducted in English, as was the ongoing communication and interaction between interviewers and Latifa and Samia. A very positive observation from the period of research was the considerable improvement in the level of English of both Latifa and Samia.
The facts which surround Samia and Latifa's life stories would suggest that grief and sadness exist at the core of their lives. In recognition that building trust between strangers is a slow process, our approach in interviews was to not press Latifa and Samia to uncover unhappy depths. In conversation both women were positive, and keen to display their gratefulness at the resettlement opportunity that had been given to them.
Posing further problems were Latifa's and Samia's perceptions of us and who we might represent in terms of authority. They showed considerable concern with respect to causing possible offence when talking of negative experiences in Australia. This may be explained through their deference to authority figures, their stated concern with regard to the permanence of their residence in Australia, and fear of the unknown consequences of their communication (this is despite the assurance of anonymity and use of pseudonyms). Ethical considerations, implicit in the previous points, further posed limitations with respect to both the depth and breadth of what we might explore.
|PROFILE OF SAMIA AND LATIFA|
Latifa 23, is from Afghanistan. Her medical studies were truncated by the warring of the Taliban and Taliban resistance in her home country. Having lost members of her immediate family to war through death and physical separation, Latifa is here in sole charge of her school age brother. After two years waiting in Pakistan to be processed by the United Nations and the Australian Government she and her brother were offered the chance to come to Australia. At the outset, Latifa gave the impression of being an intense and intelligent woman who was fiercely determined to make the most of every opportunity presented to her.
Samia 25, is a native of Somalia. For 20 years Samia and her family suffered displacement through war and inability to return to Somalia. For the 6 years prior to arrival in Australia, Samia and members of her family lived under United Nations protection in Egypt, where she completed a degree at the University of Cairo in business studies. She arrived here to be resettled with two of her siblings. Her father has been dead for some years, and her mother, because of her age was not eligible for migration to Australia. When questioned about her feelings of loss in leaving Egypt/Saudi Arabia, Samia was forthright in her declaration that she had lost so much there was nothing (little) to feel a loss for. As the eldest member of her surviving family, Samia has adopted a parental role toward her younger siblings. This demanding role must be met alongside attending daily English classes, domestic routines and volunteer work, yet Samia displays a quiet optimism and positive outlook, complemented by a happy laugh.
At the time of the first interview (mid-March) Samia and Latifa had been in Australia for one month, living independently in sparse government sponsored accommodation in Western Sydney. At the time of the second interview later in March both women were actively looking for other accommodation and had begun a tentative exploration of their local environs. At the time of the third interview in June both women had been living independently in privately rented accommodation for two months. By the fourth interview in October the lives and circumstances of each woman had begun to take separate turns, which were greatly influenced by family reunion (Samia) and the Tampa asylum seekers and the events of September 11th (Latifa).
|ACCULTURATION AND LEISURE|
As a starting point for arguing leisure's place in personal happiness in the new community it is important to recognise its role in the process of acculturation. Australia's identification as a 'leisured nation', where national character and national identity is frequently grounded in practices of sport and leisure (cf. Lynch and Veal 2001; McKay et al. 1999; Horne 1964), supports examination of the role of leisure in acculturation.
For refugees the process of acculturation can be a conflictual and 'stressful' process (Berry 1986:26). They may find themselves simultaneously trying to manage family relationships, learning a new language, culture and values, and securing economic independence. Work is often thought to be the site where the process of acculturation and social integration is most positively apparent. In the workplace refugees may find themselves participating in the economic well being of the community and they may develop social relationships which extend out of hours (Ferguson in Holden, 1999). Work is identified as one of the key links to emotional health and wellbeing with employment enabling women to feel useful, fill time, learn English, support children, contribute to the new country, regain self respect and confidence (Holden 1999:40-41).
Latifa and Samia, in earlier interviews, placed heavy emphasis on the need for paid work; believing that work rather than leisure represents the principle means of becoming part of the őlarger societal framework‚ (Doną and Berry 1994:58). Statistics indicate that a large proportion of refugee women find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed (Holden, 1999). After months of looking for work, both women found themselves in just this comprised situation. For Latifa in particular, this search was demoralising; contributing to a loss of status and lowered sense of self esteem (as discussed by Holden 1999). Unemployment also affected her long-term goals for professional achievement: in the early interviews she was planning to continue to study medicine, whereas by the end of the year, she was looking at a career in business, facilitated initially by a TAFE diploma and later by university studies. Samia similarly faced difficulties in finding paid work and decided to begin work in a volunteer capacity as a multicultural community worker.
We would argue that where refugees find themselves unemployed or under-employed in the early period of resettlement, or where cultural considerations make it impossible to work outside the home (for some women, and children) informal and organised leisure may provide a crucial opportunity for social integration and integration.
|LEISURE IN AUSTRALIA|
In our early discussions with Samia and Latifa, each made clear their interest in taking up leisure opportunities and making up for lost time: 'yes everything I want to do - I will do or try' (Latifa, pers. comm., March 27). Such enthusiasm for leisure was always tempered by other priorities. Latifa expressed these priorities as: learn English, get a job, save money, study/train. Thereafter, leisure was considered desirable and complementary to work:
In her first weeks, leisurely outings‚ around Sydney were arranged by Sister Johanna, Josephite nun and refugee worker. These provided a positive introduction to the city environs. As Latifa's confidence in her local environment grew she made weekly pleasure visits to the public library to access books and computers. At home Latifa enjoyed listening to music and watching television. Television emerged as a key leisure activity - it was and remains a means to learn English and customary behaviour. With her brother she danced, joked and played games (cards); in conversation Latifa expressed a wish to start to play chess again. Although much of Latifa's leisure was restricted to low cost activities she was able to imagine a future leisure life with other possibilities. By the time of our second interview both women recognised that leisure might have a more functional role to play, in offering them an opportunity to meet other Australians.
The leisure experiences of both women have changed somewhat over the year. In the early months of settlement Latifa characterised Australia as a peaceful land of opportunity, where she felt free. At a basic level this freedom was felt in attitudes towards dress. In Australia Latifa felt no societal compulsion to wear the Charda/headscarf. It was clear in our early discussions that Australia's biding political security was felt as extending to her personal security. Latifa nominated walking (alone and with her brother) through the urban environment as a favourite pastime. Her behaviour was akin to the flaneur - observing people and their activities, noticing her environs, enjoying the many new stimulations. Rainy days presented a particularly pleasurable opportunity for Latifa to go outside and 'enjoy the rain' (pers. comm., June 26). Further to this, she liked to take inter-suburban train trips, in order that she might look out the window and daydream.
In our early interviews with Latifa, shopping and 'window' shopping emerged as leisure activities, which she particularly valued for their social aspects/opportunities. Hours were spent just looking, talking to shopkeepers and others, and making small and varied purchases. Latifa enthused (27/3/01) about the shops in Parramatta (walking distance from home):
Latifa's enthusiasm for the Westfield Shopping Centre might seem somewhat humorous to jaded ears. However, it needs to be understood in contrast to her experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There, harassment from men was commonplace; being out in the public realm as a woman not only attracted derision, but was patently dangerous.
With the shift from government accommodation to her own flat, and the realisation that work would not be easy to come by, Latifa's attitude to money and shopping as pleasure suffered a radical shift (26/6). Shopping came to represent for Latifa a waste of time and money. Mid-year (26/6) Latifa explained that she reluctantly and hurriedly did her food shopping, preferring to spend time more constructively. In October Latifa offered that her brother Aman had taken over most shopping tasks.
Latifa's attitude to walking and train riding for pleasure has also changed in recent times. Latifa was robbed in the street in early June. This incidence has left Latifa understandably wary of walking by herself (without her brother), and never at night. For a woman without private transportation this is a debilitating situation. Train journeys have lost their lustre due to the cost of 'joy' rides, and an increasing sense of unease (fear) with her fellow travellers. Train stations and carriages are places where Latifa interfaces with the threat of petty crime and a sector of the drug taking population, hence train rides are now largely undertaken only when and if necessary. Over the winter months leisure for Latifa appeared to have contracted to that experienced close to home. Lonely and bored at home, music, once a great pleasure, was no longer considered satisfying. Ironically, having experienced the relative freedom of leisure in Australia, she is now once again restricted in her choice of activities and increasingly reliant upon the company of her brother.
Samia's leisure in the first few months of settlement was also predominantly home-based. Listening to music and watching television were important leisure activities. Walking for pleasure was not as important to Samia as it was for Latifa. During the early months leisure for Samia was a medium for developing a new relationship with her sister, as they had been apart for the previous six years.
Samia did not gain the same kind of pleasure from shopping as Latifa. Without money to spend she preferred to stay home. However because her younger sister found this activity enjoyable, Samia kept her sister company on occasion. Samia's leisure experiences were comparatively more constrained than those of Latifa. Samia offered that when she felt depressed or 'low' she would not seek the distraction of a leisure activity, but would retire to her bed.
As the months past, Samia became significantly more outgoing in her leisure activities than Latifa. This is explainable in part by family circumstance, as she had the company of her brother and sister, and later, two more siblings. Perhaps her past, and refugee experience, can also help explain her lack of reluctance in reaching out and forming relationships with new people. Samia quickly formed relationships with others in her accommodation block, travelling out to visit the Blue Mountains and the coastal beaches. She formed a close relationship with a refugee worker, who claimed to have 'adopted' her as one of her own daughters. Invitations to have dinner with this family, pass the weekend in their home, drop in for a swim in their pool were accepted and quickly formed an important part of Samia's routine.
Towards the end of the year, Samia had formed friendships with other Arabic speaking people, including a deeper relationship with an Iraqi man. Whereas Latifa's world had contracted during the research period, that of Samia had expanded.
|FRIENDSHIPS THE CHANCE TO SOCIALISE|
Developing friendships, having the opportunity to socialise, and be at leisure with others is yet another requirement of resettlement in Australia. Yet, such social formations are heavily reliant upon proficient knowledge and use of English. Lack of fluency may form a barrier to social integration (Rublee and Shaw 1991), and it might be assumed the quality and extent of friendships.
With regard to developing friendships Latifa expressed she has no wish to establish friendships with other Afghans resident in Sydney. She fears the potential of gossip and general backbiting. Tribal conflicts (Latifa is a Pushtan), also contribute to a reluctance to become involved with other Afghans. Sporadic voluntary work as an interpreter for a few newly arrived Afghan families, represents the extent of her involvement.
Samia also notes a reluctance to form friendships with other Somali people. As Samia identified, Somali people differed greatly on a regional basis. In addition those Somali who had lived outside of Somalia for long periods, were different from those who had lived largely in Somali. Samia found that in Australia many Somalians were likely to be unemployed. She perceived that they wasted too much time, talking and visiting each other.
Forming relationships outside of their ethnic/cultural groups will require Latifa and Samia to forgo the public use of their mother tongue, and the comfort of association with their own culture, language and expressiveness. Latifa indicates that cultural practices would be continued at a more private, domestic level (pers. comm., March 27) allowing her to 'maintain...identity and at the same time become part of the larger societal framework‚ (Donà and Berry 1994: 58).
As a means of managing the situation where friendships are a) predominantly cross-cultural and b) a means of satisfying friendship and support requirements of the individual, 'fictive' kin relationships are likely to become established. The establishment of fictive kin relationships for new immigrants function as a kind of family - offering support and sponsorship, and providing guidance through the host community's social and cultural differences - generally assisting the process of incorporation (Ebaugh 2000). Effective fictive kin networks allow the refugee status - a social capital which promotes belonging.
In the first four months of settlement Latifa and Samia had developed a friendship with each other (with definite fictive kin elements). The 'kin' nature of the relationship is not related to ethnicity or culture, but the kinship of their refugee status. Arriving in Australia at the same time, they were introduced to each other through their case worker. They were given accommodation in the same suburb, and found they also shared the help of a Josephite Sister and refugee worker, as well as the common experience of involvement in this research project. In addition Latifa and Samia found they shared commonalities of age, family responsibilities, and certain activities (looking for work, accommodation and English classes), interests and views (pers. comm., June 26). In the first six months, Latifa and Samia noted their mutual friendship to be sustaining (pers. comm., June 26):
After eight months the friendship of Latifa and Samia had altered significantly. Samia had become outward looking and was increasingly busy with her family, new friends, English lessons and volunteer work. Latifa was distressed by this turn of events, which found her without a confidant. The decline in contact with Samia coincided with Latifa's brother Aman's increasing absence from home (due to schooling and evening employment). With her growing fears of going out alone, Latifa found herself socially isolated, believing that her friend Samia has abandoned her.
|SETTLEMENT: IN FOR THE LONG HAUL|
The findings of our research suggest that where and when refugee women do partake in leisure it may exemplify the conditions, prohibitions and constraints of their gender; likewise it may reproduce and reinforce familial roles, their economic situation and refugee status. The limited leisure experienced by Latifa and Samia reflects their gendered parental roles. Although both women are single and childless, they have the prime parental and legal responsibility for their siblings in Australia. In both cases it is apparent that these women are themselves young, and perhaps not ready for such full responsibilities.
By their own account settling in Australia has been difficult for Latifa and Samia. Both women have suggested that their adolescent siblings are finding it easier to develop friendships and spend increasing amounts of time in leisure with their school fellows, and sporting club friends. Regular excursions throughout Sydney and surrounding environs are exciting, offer shared experiences with new friends, and serve to familiarise individuals with their new home land. Latifa comments: 'When I look at enjoyment I wish I was at school' (pers. comm.. June 26):
Post September 11th life and leisure possibilities have sharply declined for Latifa. English classes provide her only sustained human contact outside of home. Yet these classes provides little refuge for Latifa. Classmates and her teacher have made careless remarks and jokes about world events and her nationality in particular. People she casually meets (shopkeepers, ticket sales etc) freely remark on her nationality and negative Afghan characteristics. At home, the entertainment value of television has been largely supplanted for Latifa, by the news of world events. She follows televised news and commentary throughout the evening, changing channels with set news programming. News updates of USA led strikes on Afghanistan were compelling, yet they compounded her personal suffering.
When asked (pers. comm., October 29) about her leisure behaviour, Latifa replied that it was not possible to enjoy herself while this warring continued. We recognise for refugees such as Latifa, leisure may cease to exist or become a deferred space/activity. Opportunities to meet with others (ie. to go swimming on one occasion, or to go on a pleasure day trip to the NSW Central Coast) have been forgone. Latifa is left pondering fate, and her own deservedness with regard to seeking pleasure while others suffer. It is perhaps the case that her involvement with volunteer work offers some solace and compensation for living in a safe environment:
The post September 11th period has been significantly less traumatic for Samia. Ironically, while she is black, and thus often subject to both direct and indirect discrimination, in this case it has provided a buffer to the discriminatory backlash experienced by many Middle Eastern people during this time. Samia notes that (pers. comm., October 29) there has been very little change to her personal routine during this time, concentrating on English studies, volunteer work and family responsibilities.
Post-structural argument may be used to forward the possibility (after Foucault 1978, 1986 and Wearing 1998) that leisure enables refugees to escape their subject status and related circumstance. To argue that leisure is enabling is not a fanciful position. We do not suggest that refugee women forget the content of their lives, for it may be that their experiences as refugee women are inherently empowering. As Pittaway asserts:
Wearing develops Foucault's suggestion that there needs to be spaces in social life where subjectivity might be resisted (1998:146). Such spaces are nominated as heterotopias. Enlarging upon Foucault's thesis, Wearing proposes that leisure spaces and places might allow a freedom from one's subject identity. Heterotopias are spaces (existing or created) which allow and confine activity. Heterotopic space 'provide(s) a space for reconstituting the self and rewriting the script of identity' (Wearing 1998:146).
Freedom from her circumstances, and escape from ensuing unhappiness, is sought by Latifa through regular ventures to the banks of the Parramatta River. Looking for a place of solace and succour, she seeks water. Without this cathartic space, she believes her only option is to cry (pers. comm., June 26; December 19):
Heterotopias are useful for examining how refugees shore up a sense of themselves, conserve and gather strength, freely enjoying themselves without fear of judgement. Hence, heterotopias serve refugees in various ways. They might be spaces of retreat from a hostile, confronting or indifferent community. They might be points where other refugees gather in solidarity with each other (through religion, social clubs, sport. They might involve a fantasy dominion where the individual is in control (daydreams, games, reading). Used strategically leisure heterotopias offer points of resistance and self knowledge which differs from a subject identity. Importantly, such leisure spaces may become politicised sites, where they are a 'venue for making marginalised people visible and in solidarity or coalition movements with others' (Wearing 1998:171).
As Latifa's situation so clearly shows, personal security and self-confidence is closely bound to the broader environmental context, and will have an immense impact on the refugee's sense of self. Successful resettlement for each refugee relies upon the host country's generosity, and the refugee's ability to doggedly grasp opportunities before them. The past twelve months of Latifa's life have challenged both her self-confidence and her early reactions to Australia as a peaceful, tolerant and safe society. Leisure activities enjoyed by Latifa in the early months of settlement have been truncated by accostment, theft, world events and racist remarks; increasingly leisure and opportunities to interact with others outside her flat have been closed off to her. This has served to exacerbate the difficulties faced in resettlement, but it would be an injustice to see her forever a victim of circumstance. She remains both hopeful and capable of making a significant contribution to her new home country.
Samia's case provides some evidence in support of the importance of a welcoming host country. While the individual and personal circumstances of Samia and Latifa differ markedly, Samia has been less affected by post-September 11th events. While her religion, Islam, has been under intense scrutiny, Samia herself has escaped harassment. Further, Samia's 'adoption' as a fourth daughter by an Australian family provides her with leisure activities and a social space that allow her to interact with Australian people as a person and not a labelled identity, a refugee. Her initial optimism remains untempered and her personal confidence has grown concomitantly with her English ability.
We hear much of the necessity for leisure and recreational facilities and programs to meet the needs of a culturally diverse society. Yet, it would appear that refugees need and welcome opportunities to find pleasure and acceptance in the minutiae of their lives in Australia. The willingness of others (Australians) to reach out in welcome will ease the path for refugees in this country, highlighting the importance of developing friendships and fictive kin relationships in allowing a sense of community. Through leisure, as a site of positive social and personal engagement, refugees have the freedom to maintain identity (personal, ethnic and cultural) in their new community. Through leisure they may engage and contribute to the cultural, sporting, intellectual and political institutions of this country.
|POSTSCRIPT: APRIL 2002|
At the time of writing, May 2002, Latifa and Samia are both studying through the technical college system. Circumventing the problems faced in finding employment, Latifa has begun to study business, and Samia is undertaking a welfare diploma. For both woman these choices represent a radical change from the career paths envisaged when they first arrived in Australia. Latifa has been forced to accept the difficulties in studying medicine, and having previously been interested in business studies, decided to take this path. The decision by Samia to study Welfare has been greatly influenced by her own settlement experience. As a capable, competent woman, employment in the welfare sector will see her professionally involved in helping others in need.
Latifa's social sphere remains narrowly focussed on her relationship with Samia and continuing involvement with the Josephite sister. She expresses disappointment with the lack of other relationships in her life and admits to feeling lonely and isolated. Samia, on the contrary, has formed friendships with other students in her class, work colleagues in the community centre where she is doing volunteer work, and continues her relationship with her new boyfriend. Through her volunteer work and studies she is learning about Australian society, customs, traditions and history and feels confident about her place in this society.
We would like to thank Latifa and Samia for their participation in this research project.
 Hall (1990:91-92) offers that although women make up the majority of the world's refugee population they are undercatered for in all respects. 'The refugee, by definition becomes "he" and projects intended to provide training employment and incomes are geared primarily to "him". Women are generally relegated to the status of a "special" minority group within these programmes, and are often included in projects for the old and the handicapped. Policy formulation and programme design pay little heed to the women's vital role in ensuring their family's survival'.
 Herein, our use of French post structural theory is heavily influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault, Jacque Derrida and those adopting complementary approaches in feminist and post colonial texts. Such authors have examined logocentric power and social structures as constructions which are relative, arbitrary, and experience flux. Therefore it might be argued that such structures may be reordered from the social and political margins. Deconstructive approaches in particular are used to conceptualise leisure for women as a strategy of resistance and liberation with regard to accessing and developing personal power and autonomy; and strengthening identity in the new environment.
 Backgrounding our use of heterotopic space (although not for discussion here) is a substantial body of phenomenological work which examines individual notions of place and space in relationship to identity, home and psychic and emotional wellbeing.
 This is based on a study conducted with Central American refugees resettled in Canada (Donà and Berry, 1994).
 Research suggests it to be the children of refugees who seek out new forms of 'play' (Rublee and Shaw, 1991, cf. Stodolska 2000:52 study of immigrant leisure). This may have the effect of introducing conflict into the family as new values begin to replace older cultural values and behaviours - a key component of acculturation (Donà and Berry, 1994).
 Latifa, from the early weeks of her resettlement in Australia, has been involved with voluntarily assisting Afghani families who needed help with interpretation and translation relating to government bureaucracy, filling in forms, going to the bank, shopping etc.
 Philosopher/Historian Michel Foucault argued that the greatest of human struggles is apparent in the fight against subjection and subjectivity (Foucault in Dreyfus and Rabinow 1983:212). For women refugees they exist as both female subject and victim.
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Lee-Anne Hall taught in the School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney for ten years. She has recently taken up full-time doctoral studies with the Australian National University's Centre for Cross-Cultural Research. She has a long term interest in cross-cultural issues with particular concern for indigenous/non-indigenous relations in Australia and the use of creative work in meaningful dialogue towards reconciliation.
Recent publications include: "Indigenous Political Poster-making in the 1970s and 1980s" and "Gesture, Symbol, Identity", in The Oxford Companion to Aborigianl Art and Culture, ed. Kleinert, S. and Neale, M., Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2000, pp. 281-284 and pp. 437-431 ; "Indigenous Leisure"in Celebrating Inclusion and Diversity in Leisure, eds, Taylor, T. and Patterson, I., HM Leisure Planning, Williamstown, Victoria, 2001.
Monique Huyskens has worked in the School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney for 3 years as a research officer and part-time tutor. Degrees in Tourism Management and International Studies (majoring in Chile) prompted an interest in cross-cultural research, while research work for the School has focussed on such diverse areas as indigenous involvement in national park policy, urban tourism and environmental sustainability in event management.
Recent publications include: Wearing, S. & Huyskens, M. "Moving on from Joint Management Policy Regimes in Australian National Parks", Current Issues in Tourism 4(2-4), 182-209, 2001 ; Harris, R. and Huyskens, M. "Establishing Tourism Event Strategies For Island States: The Case Of The Kingdom Of Tonga", Tourism 49(4), 349-358, 2001.
|Paper presented at the International Conference "The Refugee Convention, Where to from Here?" convened by the Centre for Refugee Research (Sydney, December 2001).|