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Doing well on wellbeing

nicola_2018-200x300Nicola Sutton

Chief Executive | English Language Partners New Zealand

Imagine moving to a new country where the language, customs, and expectations radically differ from yours. On top of this, you are young. Maintaining good wellbeing as a newcomer is hard. However, multicultural young people have strong positive characteristics that supports their wellbeing despite the challenges.

A recent Australian report on how multicultural young people fare culturally, socially and economically noted that multicultural young people:

  • Are incredibly diverse and express their identities and attachments in a myriad of different ways. Labels can be problematic though and risk simplifying their experiences.
  • Articulate a high level of belonging to Australia and to other local, institutional and social spaces. However this desire to belong, participate and contribute to a range of spheres is not always recognised or reciprocated.
  • Are highly optimistic about the future. However this optimism declines with age and length of time in Australia.
  • Experience a lot of discrimination, particularly on the basis of race, in public spaces, shopping centres, schools, workplaces and when applying for jobs (more so where there are visible markers of race, ethnicity and religion)
  • Have strong but complex connections to their families. Most are close to their families but family responsibilities and obligations can create tensions and may be experienced as barriers to participation in other spheres of life.
  • Are highly engaged across a range of cultural, civic and social activities. Despite facing barriers and forms of exclusion, multicultural youth are participating in cultural and economic life in ways that strengthen their social networks, affirm their civic attachments and enrich their intercultural capacities.

The negatives included in the above list resonate with me; I can see them happening in our communities. However, they are generally fixable, especially if we draw on the positives like resilience, optimism, high levels of engagement and belonging, and strong connections with family.

What can organisations working with multicultural young people do to leverage the positives and remove or minimise the negatives? Employing ethnically diverse staff (particularly young people), making room for newcomers to contribute, and practising inclusion is a great way to start.

The report referenced in this blog is called ‘Multicultural Youth Australia Census Status Report 2017/2018’ and can be found at http://www.myan.org.au/

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/