Engaging Arabic Speaking Youth

Arabic youth playing a game

Youth of diverse Arabic speaking backgrounds face a range of issues and challenges, including:

  • education
  • employment
  • peer support
  • parental expectations
  • emotional and social wellbeing
  • integration in a new culture for those who have recently arrived in Australia

Below are some helpful hints on how to identify the needs and explore the ways of addressing the issues experienced by youth of Arabic speaking backgrounds.

Issues to Consider

  • Knowledge and familiarity with Australian customs and systems Open or Close

    You need to determine how familiar your young client is with Australian customs, procedures, available supports and pathways to engage in activities and programs.  It is also important to determine how confident your young client is in relaying information about local youth activities and programs to their parent(s), as parental support is often critical in ensuring your young client’s participation.

  • English language proficiency Open or Close

    This may affect the young person’s level of participation in education, employment and other social activities.  Newly arrived young people may have experienced poor and/or broken education prior to arriving in Australia and may have challenges with English language literacy and language acquisition.  You also need to keep in mind, that newly arrived young people have a maximum 12 month period at English Language Schools before transitioning to mainstream education and often, this may not be sufficient to equip them with the required English language skills to participate effectively in mainstream schools.

  • Recognition of experiences Open or Close
    • Pre-arrival to Australia: Young clients who have arrived as refugees may be experiencing the effects of trauma and fleeing from persecution in war torn countries of origin and may need additional counselling supports to work through emotions of post-traumatic stress.

    • Australian born youth: Many young people of Arabic speaking backgrounds are born in Australia, yet experience issues of cultural conflict and intergenerational conflict as their identity is influenced by both traditional family culture and mainstream Australian culture.
  • Impact of a new culture Open or Close
    Waleed's children (left to right) Omar (6), Ala'a (11), Sana'a (5), Ro'aa (8) Photo: Garry Walsh
    Waleed's children (left to right) Omar (6), Ala'a (11), Sana'a (5), Ro'aa (8) Photo: Garry Walsh. Source: Trocaire from Ireland (Waleed's children) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
    • Family relationships: The dynamics of family relationships are affected by changing perceptions of parenting roles, of the roles/responsibilities of children and of traditional cultural expectations of young people, which differ to those placed on children of mainstream Australian families.

    • Values and beliefs: Where, traditionally, the source of values and beliefs for Arabic speaking youth has been the family (both immediate and extended family) and religion, they now find themselves living in a secular society with many influences that shape their values and beliefs, including peers of different cultural backgrounds, school, the media, social media and other youth networks.  The youth are now navigating the definition of identity, values and beliefs across their traditional sources and their newfound sources in Australian culture.

Guide for Service Providers

Guide cover

As a service provider, you will provide effective and useful services with increased background knowledge of the clients’ language, history, religion, ethnicity, migration and settlement history, and their involvement in their community groups and networks.

By strengthening your cultural knowledge of the diverse groups of people of Arabic speaking backgrounds you will have a stronger understanding of the cultural factors which may be important in your clients' lives and in the way you and your clients will work together.

Arabic Welfare has created a guide that includes an outline of issues to consider, and useful hints and strategies as part of a best practice checklist, to ensure effective engagement with youth and appropriate service provision to support their needs.

Please contact us to obtain a copy of this guide.