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Immigration often results in changes in family dynamics and gender roles, the loss of social networks and cultural identity, and difficulties interpreting and negotiating a new legal system. Understanding the specific nature of these changes and how factors are interlinked is a challenge for researchers. We explored cultural values, practices and behaviors relating to the family dynamics that Arabic speaking migrants (Sudanese, Iraqi and Lebanese) are confronted with and how they negotiate them in their new Australian environment. This study used qualitative methodology involving seven focus group discussions (n=64). Participants were purposively sampled from three metropolitan regions of Melbourne, Australia based on (1) geographic location, (2) country of birth, and (3) generation (parents vs. young people). Findings revealed a state of family disharmony characterised by three major themes: (1) parenting and youth freedom; (2) parents' struggle to preserve cultural values; (3) changes in gender roles post-migration. This study demonstrates that family unity is a core value, a cultural framework through which decisions and the role of family members are determined, and a reference for support and negotiating post-migration experiences and challenges. However, Arabic speaking parents did not trust the legal system, with the perception that it was undermining and against family dynamics and values. Effective family interventions targeting this sub-population will need to incorporate support for parents and positive parenting programs and be built within an intergenerational framework to address an intergenerational acculturation gap.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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