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Jean Pierre Niyibaruta

13/154 Riverhills Road


Eagleby QLD4207

Student Id: 0061101576

Migrant Families in Australia

2015

Assignment 2
EDO 2104 Families and Society
Bachelor of Human Services
University of Southern Queensland
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Introduction

Australia is a country that is culturally and linguistically diverse. In 2011, there was a

census that was conducted which revealed that out of the total population of twenty-one million

five hundred thousand Australians, at least a quarter of the total population was born overseas

and migrated into the country at some point in their lives. An extra twenty percent of the total

population is made up of people who have either or both of their parents being immigrants.

Moreover, more than half of the entire population is made of people who are third generation

Australians (Babacan, 2014). This migration has a great effect on the families.

Of the people who migrate into Australia, some are single, couples, groups, or even

family units. A survey showed that most of the migrant families were made of couples who did

not have children. Over the years, migration of people into Australia has made the country a

multicultural country. In the beginning, the majority of migrants came from North-West Europe

and then more came in from the Eastern and Southern parts of Europe. In the last decade

however, migrants from Europe into Australia have considerably reduced. On the other hand,

there has been an influx of migrants from countries in Asia (Singh, 2016).

In Australia, cultural and linguistic diversity is expressed based on whether one

immigrated from a country that is English speaking or not. The major English speaking countries

with immigrants in Australia include; the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States of

America, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland (Vidal, Perales, Lersch, & Brandén, 2017).

However, people who do not come from non-main English speaking countries are not necessarily

bad at English.
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Families that are considered to be Main-English-Speaking-Countries-families are those

that have at least one of the key members who was born in a main English speaking country.

Conversely, those families that are considered non-Main-English-Speaking-Countries-families

are those with at least one key member born in a non-English speaking country. Where there are

key members from both sides, the families are said to be in both groups (Phillips & Simon-

Davies, 2010).

The Settling Process of Migrant Families

When migrant families are finding a place where they can settle, there are a myriad of

factors that are put into consideration. They need to find a place that is economically endowed so

they can be able to find employment. They also need proper housing facilities. Another factor is

that some migrant families opt to live with their relatives who are already living in Australia

(OciationBrand, 2013). Moreover, others look for places where many of the residents are from a

given ethnic background or country that they identify with. Their constraints are mostly

economical where some of the migrant families may need support from compatriots and friends

in the process of adjusting to their new life in the country.

The Sociology of Migrant Families

Families migrate into Australia for different reasons. For the people who flee their

countries due to incidences such as war or discrimination, they may have feelings of loss and

grief. On the other hand, some come into the country in search for greener pastures and a better

life (Harrison, 2013). When these hopes do not pan out in the first few months or years, these

families may have feelings of frustration or a loss of hope or even anger.

The families may have language barriers especially for people from non-English

speaking countries which would reduce their interactions with other people outside the family.
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Other families may face inter-generational conflicts caused by the difference in customs. This

may happen in families where the parents are immigrants and the children grow up with different

values from those of their parents. Moreover, the young migrants may have trouble adjusting to

the system of education in the country. Another major challenge that migrant families may face

is racism (Marks, Cresswell, & Ainley, 2006).

Relevance of Migrant Families to Personal Professional Context

Currently I’m working as a case worker dealing with immigrants. My work is to assist the

migrant families to settle into Australia and be able to start a new life. I work on the principle

that families cannot exist in isolation. Therefore, it is vital for all family members to become

integrated to the society and interact with other people. When families migrate into Australia,

they are faced by multi-culturalism (Babacan, 2014). This refers to a situation where people have

different cultures and values and they are allowed to follow them. Families that speak other

languages apart from English may have a difficult time interacting with others in the society. To

assist them, we enroll them for classes where they are able to learn the different languages

spoken in mainstream Australia to aid them in communication.

By assisting the immigrant families to settle into the country, this ensures that they are

able to start contributing to the economic development of the country and the young family

members are able to start receiving education to be able to provide for themselves in the future

(OciationBrand, 2013). The settlement phase of immigrants is greatly affected by the reaction of

the host country. Therefore, by being welcoming and helpful to the migrant families, they are

able to have a good experience and the settling process becomes much easier for them.

Working in this profession has brought about different issues. Some families have

undergone cases of domestic violence that come from high stress levels among the family
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members due to the migration process. Other families have suffered poverty, while others have

suffered a clash in customs due to the inter-generational gap in matters such as marriage,

restrictions to women’s freedoms and dress. Other conflicts that have come up as a result of the

family migration include; issues of work. This is where there is a need to decide who should

work in the family. Women roles have also been a cause for dispute. Another issue has been on

matters of decision making in the family as in who is supposed to make decisions for the family.

The final issue has been on the rights and responsibilities of the family members in the

household (Yeun-Sim Jeong, Hickey, Levett, Pitt, & Hoffman, 2011).

How Professionals Can Assist Migrant Families

It is vital for other professionals who deal with immigrant families to have respect for

their cultural heritage and show empathy to them. This will enable them to treat them in a proper

manner and help them settle into the new country. It will also assist the families in the resolution

of differences they may have and help them come to an agreement on various issues. Moreover,

the migrant families will aid in growing the country’s per capita income and be able to integrate

with society.

Perspectives of the issue of Migrant Families

The Family

In the process of migrating into a new country, the migrant family faces the issue of

losing its important support systems. The community in which the family moves into affects the

way they start their new life. If the family moves into a place that has social cohesion, they may

receive assistance in the process of settling in (Bowden & Doughney, 2010). As a result, the

entire family is likely to enjoy their life in the new place. However, they may be greatly

disappointed in case they move into a community where people do not care so much about their
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neighbors. In such situations, the family is likely to have a hard time settling in. In turn, there

may be numerous family conflicts that may be as a result of feelings of frustration felt by the

family members. Moreover, the conflicts may be as a result of disparities in cultural norms

between family members.

In certain instances, the migrant families just flee their countries without the proper paper

work required to live in other countries. As a result, they move into Australia as refugees. In

turn, some of these families live in constant fear that they might get separated. This separation

could mainly be due to deportation which could see to the left family members struggling to

provide for themselves. Due to the deportation fears, children grow up afraid of the police

because they are an authority which they fear could cause the separations even if they are not

related to the department of homeland security (Brennan & Osborne, 2008). Consequently,

children might dissociate themselves from their heritage as immigrants because they associate

immigrants with being illegal.

Children from the Migrant Families

Children in immigrant families may also face different health issues. This is mainly due

to poverty in their families. Majority of migrant families who flee their countries due to various

issues live in poverty. Others may also be exposed to situations that are violent especially in case

there was a conflict between different groups of people in their country of origin resulting in a

war. Both poverty and violence are likely to lead to major health concerns for the children

(Crozier, Reay, Clayton, Colliander, & Grinstead, 2008). The movement from one country to

another is also associated with health issues. This could be from; contaminated food, infectious

diseases, terrorism, and illegal substances among others. It is therefore important for migrant

families to ensure that once they get into Australia and are in the process of settling, they should
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ensure their children are attended by health professionals to get treated and immunized against

different diseases.

Other Family Members

Some family members may not want to immigrate or they may lack the proper

documentation or finances to move to another country. In that case, immigrant families may

provide resources for their kin in their home country. Moreover, the immigrants may hold onto

their cultural customs hereby exemplifying bicultural adjustment as opposed to assimilation. This

is possible due to the policy of multiculturalism that exists in Australia (Marks et al., 2006).

Though certain cultures may change in the immigrants’ home countries, the immigrants may still

uphold them to reinforce traditional behavior and values.

Individual Migrants

On average there are low educational achievements by migrants. Research has shown that

the most influential factors that have led to this outcome are; language challenges, parents’

education levels, period of stay since migration, and school segregation. Parental care has been

seen to increase children’s wish to pursue higher education as opposed to family income (Crozier

et al., 2008). Migrant children as a result of being from other countries are also likely to face

racism in school which may reduce their willingness to integrate with other children or even

learn. Due to low educational levels of a large number of migrants many of them are forced to

work in low paying jobs.

Government

The government has a great impact on immigrant families. It requires the migrant

families not to carry out certain customs that were considered legal in their native countries. For

instance, migrants who come from countries where practices such as polygamy are allowed are
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not allowed to continue these practices in Australia. Another practice that is not allowed in

Australia is the practice of female genital mutilation (Government, 2012). Even if such a practice

would have been allowed in the home country of the migrant families, it is not allowed in

Australia. Moreover, the government puts rules and regulations in place that directly impact the

kind of lives the migrants will live in the foreign countries (Harrison, 2013).

Roles of Major Societal Institutions in the Context of Migrant Families

Religious practices help to promote the well-being of all families. Religious places bring

different people together regardless of their backgrounds. In Australia, research has shown that

the increase of immigrants has led to an increase in denominations. The manner in which

learning institutions respond to migration has a very significant effect on the well-being, both

socially and economically, of communities where they are situated (Yeun-Sim Jeong et al.,

2011). Schools ought to accommodate students from all backgrounds regardless of the language

that they speak or the economic status of their families.

Research has shown that first generation immigrant students perform very poorly as

compared to students who do not have an immigrant background. On the other hand, second

generation immigrant students have an average performance. This has mainly been attributed to

language barriers because it has been observed that the migrant students perform poorly in

reading and perform much better in mathematics or activities that involve problem solving

(Crozier et al., 2008). Migrant students have also been seen to perform in accordance to the

systems of schools in their home country.

One main factor that determines the lives of immigrant students is the experiences they

had during their early school years. These experiences have an impact on their social, emotional,

and mental development. If the children faced discrimination during their impressionable years,
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this may affect their academic trajectory and personal development in a negative way (Marks et

al., 2006). Consequently, the emotional benefits of learning may become limited. It is therefore

of utmost importance for teachers to be trained on how they can provide the best learning

environment for all children regardless of their backgrounds and provide students with learning

experiences that are diverse and culturally sensitive to bring maximum benefits to all students.

In many instances, there is a lower likelihood of migrant children to see a doctor when

they are ill as compared to children born of Australian parents even when they have insurance.

Moreover, adults who are immigrants are also less likely to go to emergency rooms as compared

to their native counterparts who earn low incomes (Singh, 2016).

The Migration Amendment (family violence and other measures) Bill was introduced in

2016 in the house of representatives. Its purpose it to ensure the protection of visa applicants

from sponsors whose aim is to manipulate them. Family migration is very reliant in sponsorship.

(Peri, 2006) The sponsor has a responsibility to ensure that the family is well supported in their

initial days of settling into the country to prevent them from being a burden to the society. By

ensuring the sponsor is thoroughly investigated, this ensures the migrant family is placed in good

hands as they try to adjust to the new country (Banks, 2015).

There are pre-school programs such as PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking

Strategies) curriculum that have been created to assist immigrant children to learn properly and

develop social and emotional competencies and skills (Fishman & Wille, 2014). There are also

evidence-based programs that have been adapted to assist the children of seasonal and migrant

workers. All these programs assist learners develop their language and adapt culturally to their

new country.
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Conclusion

Indeed, it is very important for professionals dealing with migrant families to assist them

in the settling in process to enable them have a better life in their new country. Learning

institutions should also strive to assist children from migrant families to learn smoothly and try

as much as possible to ensure that discrimination is minimized. The cultures of all people should

also be respected, celebrated, and encouraged to ensure diversity. The government also has a role

to make sure policies put in place to assist migrants are enforced.


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