Since arriving in Australia 16 months ago, Syrian refugee Youssef Darwish has learned English and is studying for a qualification in furniture removal and warehousing.
He is among 70 per cent of refugees who are either working or studying to gain English language or other employment skills. He is also among the majority of new migrants who have found Australia a friendly place to live.
Just 5 per cent complain of having experienced racial discrimination here.
But three-quarters of recently arrived migrants on humanitarian visas have struggled to find secure housing, according to a landmark national study to be released on Thursday.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies research, the first of its kind in 10 years, surveyed 2400 "humanitarian migrants" who had arrived in Australia from 35 countries including the Middle East and Africa, within the past five years. They ranged in age from 15 to 80.
The research found 75 per cent had difficulties obtaining housing mainly because of the cost, lack of references and language difficulties. One-third had moved house multiple times. Almost half reported their existing housing was temporary or leased for six months or less.
Mr Darwish, 25, used his new English language skills to find housing in Condell Park where he lives with his mother and father, who also migrated to Australia after the family spent two years in Egypt.
"I saw houses on the internet and made appointments and talked to an agent," Mr Darwish said. Like many of the migrants surveyed, Mr Darwish and his parents had witnessed conflict in their home-city, Aleppo.
The study found 13 per cent reported poor physical health and 75 per cent were at risk of psychological distress.
The vast majority, 89 per cent, of the recent arrivals had experienced at least one traumatic event, including war and persecution, before arriving in Australia.
Iranian-born Mohammad Javidkia was jailed in Georgia for six months after travelling on a fake passport.
After arriving in Australia in May 2013, he met the woman he later married in Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia.
The couple, who now live in Sydney, had their first child on December 24 and named her Evie, because she was born on Christmas "eve".
Mr Javidkia also obtained a bridging visa at Christmas and is now seeking work.
Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Anne Hollonds, said housing was an issue in many parts of Australia, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.
"These people are more vulnerable than most because of their circumstances," she said. "It is difficult for governments to help with that when there is such pressure all round."
Ms Hollonds said the small proportion of refugees reporting discrimination was a welcome finding.
But the high proportion of new arrivals at risk of mental illness was troubling.
"Being able to engage in study and employment and learning English will be harder if you are dealing with trauma in your life," she said.
"The good news is that we know about it. What we need to do is ensure that our service systems are working in a co-ordinated way to provide support for people."
Ms Hollonds said the research findings were particularly important to help meet the needs of refugees, particularly new intakes from Syria.
Education and Employment:
• 70 per cent of new arrivals are either working or studying, mainly English language.
• 7 per cent of migrants were employed
• 40 per cent said it was 'hard' and 35 per cent said it was 'very hard' to find housing, mainly due to the cost, language difficulties or not having references.
• About one-third had moved house multiple times.
• Almost half reported their current housing was temporary or a lease of six months or less.
Health and life satisfaction:
• 13 per cent said their physical health was 'poor' or 'very poor'.
• 89 per cent reported they or their immediate family had experienced at least one type of traumatic event prior to arrival.
• 35 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women were at moderate or high risk of psychological distress compared to 7 per cent of men and 11 per cent of women in the general population.
• About one quarter said they were experiencing many problems and/or 'not coping well'.
• About half reported having had family in Australia when they arrived and 24 per cent had friends from where they used to live.
• Around half of the migrants were waiting to reunite with family currently in another country.
Sense of Belonging:
• 80-90 per cent said that so far, their experience of settling into Australia has been 'good' or 'very good'.
• 5 per cent had experienced discrimination usually on the streets, public transport and in local neighbourhoods.