Role as leader

Although many men of Arabic speaking backgrounds no longer have their family elders with them in Australia to offer them guidance and support, they often find themselves undertaking the role of community leader or elder for other men and families who are more recently arrived in Australia and have less experience in overcoming settlement issues in their new homeland.

Roles and responsibilities of leaders in the community may not necessarily be undertaken by older men (as would be the case in the home country), but younger men in the community who may have better English language skills, stronger understandings of mainstream Australian culture and greater confidence in working with Australian systems and support services. Young men in this position may face pressures from competing community demands and expectations for support, which is further heightened by collectivist cultural values of duty and obligation to community members.

Occasionally, frictions may arise when a younger man’s advice or viewpoint carries greater weight and is valued more by community members than that of an older man. Given the traditional view that ‘wisdom comes with age’, it would be useful for service providers who work with community groups to consult both younger male leaders and elders, in order have representative views and consensus approaches in community engagement.