Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants (BNLA)


Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants (BNLA) is a longitudinal study of how humanitarian migrants settle into life in Australia. It is the first long-term study of humanitarian migrants to Australia. The study ran from 2013 to 2018 and will recommence in 2022. The 2022 collection sees a significant milestone for BNLA participants as it is the tenth year since their arrival in Australia.

BNLA aims to gain a better understanding of the well-being and experiences of humanitarian migrants settling in Australia. The study investigates factors that may facilitate positive outcomes like their:

  • participation in society
  • general health
  • general happiness.

Collected information is used to inform policy and program development to successfully meet the needs of migrants, their host communities and Government priorities.

Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) fact sheet

Study participants

The first stage of the study saw more than 1,500 migrating units (2,399 individuals) interviewed. The study followed individuals and families through their settlement journey and, over time, looks at their:

  • experiences
  • challenges
  • adaptations 
  • outcomes.

Sample size and response rates


In-Scope Population

Wave response rate
Retention rate of wave 1
Wave 1 - 2,399 - -
Wave 2 2,399 2,009 83.7 83.7
Wave 3 2,349 1,894 80.6 78.9
Wave 4 2,332 1,929 82.7 80.4
Wave 5 2,333 1,881 80.6 78.4


  1. Response rates are calculated as a percentage of the in-scope participants at the commencement of fieldwork for each wave. Response rates are not provided for wave 1.
  2. Retention rates are calculated as a percentage of the Wave 1 participants who completed each wave. They do not account for participants who are no longer in-scope (e.g. moved overseas, passed away) or new sample members recruited in subsequent waves. Therefore, they only partially reflect the full response picture.
  3. In-scope population excludes respondents who withdrew from the study prior to the wave or were removed for administrative reasons.


We conduct BNLA. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) manage data collection on our behalf.

Kantar Public undertake the fieldwork.

The BNLA Advisory Group informed the study design and development. Members included:

  • Commonwealth government officials
  • external stakeholders
  • experts in refugee resettlement
  • experts in longitudinal survey methods and analysis.

Data access

Data is available to approved researchers from government, academic institutions and non-profit organisations.

Access the BNLA data through Dataverse.


BNLA data has improved our understanding of the issues facing humanitarian migrants.  Research using BNLA data has been published in over 50 articles, discussion papers, reports or book chapters. DSS publications are listed below.

Data highlights

Data Highlight No.2/2015: Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants - Findings from the First Three Waves by David Marshall

Technical and scoping reports

See FloSse Research for more research publications.


For further information, contact

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