Challenges facing families from migrant and refugee backgrounds
Families and young people may face additional pressures negotiating the challenges of settlement which can disrupt family bonds.
Settlement challenges can be significant for families who arrive as migrants or refugees. They include:
- Learning a new language, which often is more difficult for parents than for young people
- Adjusting to new culture, systems, and processes,
- Finding stable and affordable housing close to schools, critical services, shops and work
- Finding employment
- Becoming financially secure.
For families from refugee backgrounds, there is also the likely impact of trauma and dislocation of the refugee experience. Families parenting adolescent young people can also face additional pressures related to the challenges their children face growing up.
Adolescence is a significant time for young people. For many migrant and refugee young people, transitioning to adulthood occurs while also negotiating a new cultural, social and legal context. Young people face many unique challenges in their settlement journeys because of their life stage.
Like all young people, those who arrive in Australia aged between 12 and 25 have hopes and aspirations for their future, and are forming relationships outside of the family as the lay the foundations for the lives they will lead as adults.
Development of identity is a key task for all young people but young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds have the added challenges of negotiating multicultural identities, including identification with their family’s culture of origin as well as with the larger culture of their Australian society.
Young people often use the term “juggling” to explain how they manage accommodating the different expectations of their new culture and those expectations of their family culture of origin.
For those who have arrived recently, young people may face difficulties establishing new social networks, and practical challenges negotiating new and unfamiliar education systems and social networks. Many may also be facing additional barriers like overcrowding, or lack of money to buy school resources.
Families hold high aspirations for their children, but may not understand the education system enough to be able to support their children in navigating education pathways. They may hold unrealistic expectations of their adolescent children in their studies and career options
Parents are also keen to transmit their culture of origin to their children as part of their own acculturation process; fear that their children may be losing connection to their culture of origin is a common concern.
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