Document Type

Working Paper


The legacy of over two decades of destructive wars and of the Pol Pot regime (1975-79) forced many Cambodians to flee their homeland. Since 1975 about fifteen thousand have resettled in Australia. A substantial influx did not start until 1980. According to the 1986 census, there were 5,898 Cambodian-bom people living in NSW, concentrated mainly in the western suburbs of Sydney. Among them were many adolescents who are the target of this study. Adolescents represent a big proportion of the total Cambodian population. In NSW, over a quarter (25.72%) of the Cambodian population are in the fifteen to twenty four age group. This age group was chosen because:

— they are a group at risk

— without proper settlement assistance their contribution to Australian society will be hindered.

This study will investigate the settlement process of Cambodian adolescents in NSW. First it is necessary to look briefly at their participation in education and employment, the effect the Pol Pot era had on the psychology of those who lived through it, and the identity problem that usually occurs in young people as the result of migration.

To follow are my observations combined with a survey of the literature on these issues, a profile of the Cambodian population in NSW, and some special characteristics of Cambodian refugees.