Unpredictability, Invisibility and Vulnerability: Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Minors’ Journeys to Australia

Author(s): Mariana NARDONE ; Ignacio CORREA-VELEZ



This qualitative study investigated the refugee journey of 17 males who arrived in Australia as unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors between 2009 and 2013, and were granted protection visas. The article focuses on the four conceptual challenges of refugee journeys, as identified recently by BenEzer and Zetter: temporal characteristics; drivers and destinations; the process/content of the journey; and the characteristics of the wayfarers. The findings indicate that their mental journey has not yet ended and transcends the physical departure–arrival voyage. Although the primary drivers for the refugee journey were protection reasons, their desire to find a ‘better life’ free from violence and exclusion also played an important role. The irregular character of the journey made it highly unpredictable, exposed these minors to extreme levels of vulnerability and the need to remain invisible, prompted short-lived friendships with other asylum seekers, and created a pervasive feeling of mistrust towards smugglers and other people they met along the way. The study has highlighted the need for interventions to protect unaccompanied minors during their refugee journey.

Keywords: Unaccompanied minors, refugee journeys, irregular migration, asylum seekers

Tags: Children, Adolescents, Unaccompanied minors, Asylum seekers, Journey, Vulnerability, Australia

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