'The Government Just Stops Parents Parenting' – Finding Better Ways to Build Safety Around Children in Families from a Refugee Background
Child Abuse & Neglect, 2015
22 Pages Posted: 2 May 2015
Date Written: 2015
Child and family welfare is a critical issue among newly arrived migrant families in Australia. Humanitarian migrant families are especially at high risk of intervention and child removal by care and protection authorities. What are the main causes of inter-generational family conflict among migrant families? And to what extent do current policies and implementation succeed at building safety around children of migrant families? Building on evidence from qualitative research with South Sudanese families, one of the fastest growing newly arrived humanitarian migrant communities in Australia, the paper argues the case for micro and macro level reforms when engaging with refugee families and a shift towards responsive regulatory practices in the child protection environment when working with refugee families.
The relevance of a responsive regulation approach to child protection in main-stream and in Indigenous communities has already been evaluated and established. Where this paper aims to contribute is to evaluate its relevance in the case of migrant families from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. Specifically, the paper examines the main causes of inter-generational family conflict among South Sudanese Australian families and associated claims of Sudanese parents losing their authority due to intervention from child protection authorities. Based on multi-site in-depth interviews with Sudanese community members and workers supporting the community, the article connects participant narratives with Australian institutional settings to understand the reasons for Sudanese parents feeling ill-served by the Australian child protection system. The article concludes by discussing the elements of responsive regulation that are particularly suited to repair, improve and cultivate relationships between care and protection agencies and migrant families.
Keywords: Responsive regulation, family conflict, child protection, refugee families, government intervention, responsive institutions, South Sudanese settlement
JEL Classification: I30
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