Susana Akua Saffu

PhD Candidate

Ms Susana Akua Saffu’s PhD study was inspired by her personal, professional and academic experiences as an African woman migrant, an adult educator and community volunteer. Originally from Ghana in West Africa, Susana has lived and worked as an educator in different countries before migrating to Australia. Whilst she has worked at different levels of education for over three decades, most of her career in education has been in the tertiary sector where she has worked for almost 20 years. She is a Coordinator/Lecturer of the Bachelor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advocacy (BATSIA) degree program in ACIKE (Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education & Charles Darwin University). Her scholarship, teaching and professional activities focus on utilising education as a tool for empowerment, hence promoting equity and access in education for diverse and marginalised communities.

Apart from her work with ACIKE and PhD study, she is actively engaged with members of the local and national migrant and refugee community, and serves on several local and national advisory committees for government and Non-Government organisations on families, gender, education, multicultural, settlement and social inclusion issues. She was involved in the DiversityWise employment mentorship program for migrants and the long-term unemployed as a volunteer mentor, a member of the Federal Minister’s Children and Family Roundtable and Families Australia Ambassador in the NT (2011 – 2013).

In 2009, she was the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) Postgraduate Essay Prize Winner for her conference paper titled: Adult education and community capacity building: The case of African-Australian women in the Northern Territory. She has also published preliminary findings of her study (Saffu, 2010) in the journal of The Australasian Review of African Studies.


Adult education and community capacity building: The case of African-Australian women in the Northern Territory (NT)

Migration plays a major issue in Australia. The number of non-European migrants to Australia, especially Sub-Saharan Africans has increased significantly since 2000. This may be due to natural disasters, political unrests and civil wars in their home countries, and the promotion of policies of multiculturalism and integration of migrants in Australia. Migration policies have broad goals that include social, economic and political participation of migrants in their communities.

Over the past decade, the number of Sub-Saharan African women migrants and refugees in the NT has increased exponentially. This influx has generated a range of government and community responses to build these African women’s capacity to integrate into the community through various forms of education. For migrants, education is not only an adaptive strategy for social and economic integration but also a means of survival as well as an important step in reconstructing identities and rebuilding their lives. Having an understanding and knowledge of the language, socio-economic, political and cultural issues of Australia helps migrants to be aware of their rights and responsibilities; and also assist them to participate fully in their communities.

This research provides insight into the experiences of a group of 24 Sub-Saharan African women migrants and refugees. It elucidates the impact and role of education on the women’s migration and on their post-migration experiences as they rebuild their lives in their new country. There has been very little research done on African women migrants and refugees in the past. This research will provide guidance for government, education and training institutions, migrant support agencies and individuals.

Research Interests

  • Adult education and community development
  • Women’s education and empowerment
  • Education for diverse and marginalised communities
  • Migration, education and social capital


Saffu, S. A. 2010, “Adult education and community capacity building: The case of African-Australian women in the Northern Territory”, The Australasian Review of African Studies, Vol 31 (1) 15 – 36.


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