The Impact of a Parenting Intervention in Australia among Migrants and Refugees from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, and Burundi: Results from the African Migrant Parenting Program

By Renzaho, Andre M. N.; Vignjevic, Sonia | Journal of Family Studies, April 2011 | Go to article overview

The Impact of a Parenting Intervention in Australia among Migrants and Refugees from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, and Burundi: Results from the African Migrant Parenting Program


Renzaho, Andre M. N., Vignjevic, Sonia, Journal of Family Studies


ABSTRACT

African migrants and refugee families who resettle in high-income countries such as Australia face many challenges. Negotiating parenting in a new culture is one of the most pressing challenges that is faced by most African migrant and refugee parents. As a consequence of the new cultural environment reflecting values and practices that may seem inconsistent with traditional parenting from countries of origin, differing acculturation rates of parents as compared to their children may lead to difficulties and challenges. An eight-session parenting program for African migrant and refugee parents living in Melbourne was evaluated. Thirty-nine families participated in the program, which involved pre-test and post-test measures of parenting domains, using the Bavolek and Keene (1999) revised Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2). Exposure to the program was related to positive changes in parental expectations of children, attitudes towards corporal punishment, and restriction of children's access to food. The program facilitated positive change in almost all parenting domains. In light of these findings, recommendations are made for policy and future programs.

Key words: African migrants and refugees; African Migrant Parenting Program; parenting intervention; collectivism; individualism

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Over the last four decades, there, has been an increase in migration from low to high-income countries as a result of increased insecurity, war, poverty, and human right abuses (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2007). In Australia, increased immigration has translated into dramatic demographic transformations and increasing cultural and linguistic diversity (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2007). Over the last 10 years the size of the Australian Humanitarian Program increased from 12,000 places in 1998-1999 to 13,500 places in 2008-2009 (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009a). Although the largest source region was Europe, accounting for about half of refugees and humanitarian entrants resettled between 1998 and 2001, the proportion of refugees and humanitarian entrants from Africa increased from around 16% in 1998-1999 to a peak of 70% between 2003 and 2005 (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2009b).

Currently sub-Saharan African refugees and migrants represent about 1% (192,000 people) of the Australian population, and remain one of the fastest growing communities in Australia (ABS 2007). With the exception of white South Africans and those from Zimbabwe, the majority of African migrants to Australia are refugee and humanitarian entrants under the UN Convention (Renzaho 2007). The 2009 migration statistics indicate that 33.2% of the total number of humanitarian visas granted by the Australian Government went to the African region, with Sudan (631), Ethiopia (478), the Democratic Republic of Congo (463), Somalia (456), Liberia (387), and Sierra Leone (363) receiving the most visas (Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2009b).

Upon arrival, there are a number of factors that may negatively affect family functioning and parent-child interaction among sub-Saharan African refugees and migrants (Renzaho, McCabe & Sainsbury 2010b; Renzaho et al. 2010a). These include the stress related to adaptation to a new cultural environment, work demands, family needs such as housing or children's schooling, changing family structure, roles and responsibilities, establishing social networks, learning English, and looking after their general health (Renzaho 2002). However, parenting issues, especially those that relate to strain between family members of different generations, represent one of the most pressing challenges these families struggle to negotiate (Renzaho, Swinburn & McCabe 2008). Parenting in a new culture brings with it many challenges, as family values are interpreted differently in many cultures and parenting practices are used to achieve culture-sanctioned goals (Dei 2004). …

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