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Cultural roles, perceptions and experiences

You will find it easier to talk to a parent from a diverse cultural background if you know about the differences in roles between men and women, whether there was oppression in their country of origin, and whether they value just their family or their whole cultural group.

Experience of trauma, loss and oppression

People from culturally diverse backgrounds have their own, unique stories. Some have immigrated to Australia by choice and bring financial resources. Others may have fled their war-torn country of origin with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Refugee populations in particular will likely have experienced trauma, loss, difficulties adjusting to the new culture, and disadvantage (Sowey, 2005).

Helping a parent to place their alcohol and other drugs problems in the context of their survival and resistance can help to reduce any shame and increase self-compassion.

Further reading

Read more about ways to work with CALD people and communities at the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland.

The role of women and men

The impact of migration, oppression, social isolation, economic disadvantage and acculturation can greatly influence and change the roles within families. This can add to the risk factors for alcohol and other drugs use. You will need to understand the cultural roles within each family as this may affect who you should speak to and how you should talk with them.

Sometimes it may only be appropriate for women to talk with women and men with men. Age can also be a factor in who you should talk to. Recognising the gender roles and status within the family and community is important in your work with CALD families. You may also need to explore how free and open a parent can be in talking about alcohol and other drugs use with you and health and service professionals.

Individual or collective perspective

People from culturally diverse backgrounds may place a very high value on extended family if they have a collective rather than individual perspective.

Individualism refers to the tendency of people in some cultures to value individual identity, rights and achievements over those of the group. An individual is expected to look after themselves and their immediate family.

Collectivism refers to the tendency of people in some cultures to value group identity and concerns over individual concerns. They prefer to be integrated into strong, cohesive groups that provide protection and loyalty (Hofstede 2011).

Knowing what perspective a parent has can help you understand how to talk about alcohol and other drugs use and the level of engagement a family may or may not have throughout treatment and recovery.

Further reading

Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate and effectively interact across cultures.” Read more about cultural competence in the report Cultural Competence in Australia A Guide

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