issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

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issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Resisting refugee policy19to achieve this aim, quantitative and qualitativedata were simultaneously collected through anelectronic questionnaire. Although, as noted byYardley and Bishop (in press), there areprofound differences in these perspectives –quantitative often being associated withscientific paradigms and qualitative oftenbeing associated with interpretative/constructivist paradigms - there are manybenefits in both methods if pitfalls (e.g., notusing explicit theoretical frameworks) aretaken into account. In fact, Yardley and Bishopargue that if we really want to understand thehuman experience, we need to draw on a rangeof methods to do so. Specifically, in our study,the qualitative data enabled the exploration ofthe context in which stress and coping tookplace as was then expressed in the quantitativeself-reports. A thematic analysis approach(Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used to examinethe qualitative data. As these authors note, thismethod is recommended for the use in underresearchedareas. As such, it is the mostsuitable for the purpose of the present studybecause stress and coping of Australianrefugee advocates has not been specificallystudied. The following steps were taken withrespect to the reasons for perceiving refugeework as more stressful (if in fact participantsdid), the Critical Incidents, and positiveexperiences. Firstly, common themes emergingfrom the data were identified, named, and alldata relevant to each theme collated. Secondly,the frequency with which each theme wasmentioned by participants was established.In this study, four specific objectiveswere identified. A minor first objective was toinvestigate whether advocates were previouslyinvolved in social justice movements; if so,whether they found refugee advocacy more orless stressful, or there was no difference. Ifindeed there were differences, we wereinterested in why this may have been the case.The second was to examine the level of stressreported by the participants. The third waswhat coping strategies were most used andperceived as successful. Finally, the fourth wasto explore the outcomes of refugee involvementin terms of changes in interpersonalrelationships and positive experiences.MethodThe questionnaire was posted on-line; 84questionnaires were returned over eight weeksfrom May to July 2006. Participants completedthe survey in a single session which tookapproximately 30 minutes. Invitations toparticipate, including a link to the questionnaireand a request to send it on to other individualsand groups, were emailed to 13 refugee supportgroups across Australia. The second and thirdauthors of this paper were included asparticipants.Respondents were asked to state their agein years, their education level (1 = did notcomplete secondary school, 6 = postgraduatedegree), political orientation (1 = strongly left,5 = strongly right), sex (1 = male, 2 = female),and religiousness or spirituality (1 = neitherreligious nor spiritual, 2 = religious, 3 =spiritual, 4 = both religious and spiritual). Theyalso responded to the questions about theirrefugee involvement: length of time (from 1 =less than 1 year, 4 = more than 5 years),potential impact on their finances (1 = yes, 2 =no), type of work (1 = political action, 2 =refugee support, 3 = both political action andrefugee support), closeness to a supportedrefugee (1 = not close at all, 4 = very close),and experience in other social justice areas (1 =yes, 2 = no). In addition, participants who hadexperience in other social justice areas alsoresponded to an open-ended question about thereasons for perceiving refugee advocacy asmore stressful (if they had indicated that thiswas the case).The Critical Incident technique (Flanagan,1954) was used to enable participants’recollection of a stressful event from theiradvocacy work. The Critical Incident providedcontext in which participants experienced stressas, for many advocates, the most stressfulepisodes associated with their refugeeinvolvement happened in the past. Participantsresponded to the three open-ended questionsThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 20 No 2 December 2008

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