Project to ad­dress iden­tity cri­sis

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Research Round - Up - Sanna Trad

THE is­sues faced by Su­danese refugees mak­ing a new life in Aus­tralia will be the fo­cus of a Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land re­search project.

It is the first time the com­mu­nity from the war- torn African na­tion has been stud­ied to see how its ex­pe­ri­ences and cul­ture are af­fect­ing its in­te­gra­tion into Aus­tralian life.

The three- year project will be led by se­nior USQ fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion lec­turer Aniko Hatoss and will con­cen­trate on the Su­danese com­mu­nity in the south­ern Queens­land town of Toowoomba.

The re­search, which is be­ing funded with a $ 187,000 grant from the Aus­tralian Re­search Coun­cil’s Dis­cov­ery Project, will cover so­cial and lan­guage fac­tors in the group’s adjustment to life in Aus­tralia.

Hatoss hopes the re­search will help Su­danese fam­i­lies bet­ter in­te­grate into Aus­tralian so­ci­ety and may con­trib­ute to fu­ture refugee poli­cies.

‘‘ I have been work­ing on this for the past three years in re­sponse to the ap­par­ent need in this very com­plex cross- cul­tural sit­u­a­tion,’’ Hatoss says.

She hopes the project will help the refugees in­te­grate into the greater com­mu­nity with­out los­ing their iden­ti­ties.

‘‘ Be­ing bilin­gual and mul­tilin­gual is a strong as­pect of Su­danese cul­ture,’’ Hatoss says. ‘‘ This project aims to find out what mo­ti­vates a com­mu­nity to keep its lan­guage and cul­tural her­itage.’’

Of the 1000 Su­danese fam­i­lies liv­ing in Toowoomba, 100 will be in­volved in Hatoss’s re­search.

Su­danese mi­grant Moses Ali, pres­i­dent of the Toowoomba African Coun­cils As­so­ci­a­tion, wel­comes the re­search project and says the dis­o­ci­a­tion of Su­danese youth from their cul­tural her­itage is ap­par­ent. ‘‘ They are for­get­ting their cul­ture, they can’t speak their lan­guage and they fear they can­not learn English prop­erly if they are speak­ing their own lan­guage,’’ he says.

‘‘ The com­ments by ( Im­mi­gra­tion Minis- ter Kevin) An­drews on Su­danese and African refugees has dam­aged our rep­u­ta­tion. We en­cour­age peo­ple to be com­mit­ted to Aus­tralian val­ues, but they should not dis­card their cul­tural back­ground.

‘‘ It is part of their iden­tity.’’

New life:

South­ern Queens­land’s Aniko Hatoss with Su­danese com­mu­nity leader Moses Ali

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.