About the study

Project update

We are pleased to have the opportunity to reconnect with participants in anticipation of the next interview. The BNLA team will be recontacting participants between April and May 2022 to understand their willingness to participate in a further wave of data collection. For more information, see Information for participants.

About BNLA

Australia has a long tradition of welcoming humanitarian migrants. Forced to leave their homes and country, many have suffered significant trauma and are unfamiliar with the language and culture of Australia. Understanding how humanitarian migrants settle 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. That is, a study that follows the same humanitarian migrants over time. In April 2014, responsibility for the study moved to the Department of Social Services.  Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) was then established to better understand the factors that aid or hinder the successful settlement of humanitarian migrants in Australia. This ground-breaking longitudinal study has employed annual data collections over five years (2013-2018, Waves 1-5) to trace the settlement journey of humanitarian migrants. 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 about the Building a New Life in Australia study:

  • Close to 2,400 individuals and families are taking part.

  • Almost all arrived in Australia in 2013, and experienced trauma and persecution before their arrival.

  • Information being collected for the study includes: housing, language proficiency, education, employment and income, health and life satisfaction.

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.

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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.