About the study

Project update

We are pleased to have had the opportunity to reconnect with so many participants in the last few weeks and hope to connect with many more of you before the end of field work. If you haven’t completed a survey this year it’d be great if you could reach out to us by sending an email to [email protected] or call 1800 328 999 before 30 June 2023. For more information, Information for participants.

About BNLA

Australia has a long tradition of welcoming humanitarian migrants. Many have experienced significant traumatic events and were forced to leave their home country. Understanding how humanitarian migrants integrate into the new society and culture is critical to the development of effective policy and program responses.


In 2012, The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) was commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to design and undertake a longitudinal study of humanitarian migrants. This is a study that follows the same humanitarian migrants over time. In April 2014, the Department of Social Services (DSS) took oversight for the study.  

Aims and Significance

The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants, known as Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) aims to better understand the factors that aid or hinder the successful settlement of humanitarian migrants in Australia. It provides a research evidence base to inform policy and program development.

BNLA is the first comprehensive study of its kind in more than a decade. The information gathered will be used to inform the development, improvement and targeting of evidence-based policies and programs for humanitarian migrants in Australia.

Previous Waves

This ground-breaking longitudinal study employed annual data collections over five years in Waves 1-5 (2013-2018) to trace the settlement journey of humanitarian migrants from their arrival in Australia through to their eligibility for citizenship. All study participants received a permanent humanitarian visa enabling them to settle in Australia, granted either before their arrival as part of Australia’s refugee program, or since their arrival, through Australia’s asylum seeker humanitarian program.

Some facts

  • Close to 2,400 individuals are taking part.
  • The majority arrived in Australia in 2013, and experienced trauma and persecution before their arrival.
  • Participants are asked questions covering a range of key domains, including:
    • demographic information
    • housing
    • language proficiency
    • education
    • employment and income
    • pre-migration experiences
    • health
    • self-sufficiency
    • community support
    • life satisfaction
    • perceptions of life in Australia.

About the BNLA cohort

Infographic: Recruited sample across states and territories in Australia: NT-19; Qld-237; NSW-947; Vic-734; SA-290; WA-94.




Infographic: Age distribution: Participant age ranged from 15 years to more than 80 years; Culture and religion: Participants have diverse cultural and religious backgrounds and experiences.




Infographic: Countries of origin and languages spoken. Read text description.




Infographic: Data collection points and response rates. Read text description.

View text description


Building a New Life in Australia is commissioned and funded by the Department of Social Services. The project is being undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Data are collected by Kantar (previously known as Colmar Brunton Social Research) in conjunction with Multicultural Marketing and Management.

Related information

A Muslim woman and her daughter are outdoors. They are wearing casual clothes and head scarves. They are sitting in front of a stone wall. They are watching something funny on a tablet computer.

Find out more about the study participants.