Blocked opportunity and threatened identity: Understanding experiences of disrespect in South Sudanese Australians

Event details

Date & time

Tuesday 18 October 2011
12.30pm–1.30pm

Venue

ANU Canberra

Speaker

Ibolya (Ibi) Losoncz

Contacts

Lack of respect is a recurring theme in the literature exploring the settlement of South Sudanese Australians with refugee experiences. Qualitative interviews with 16 South Sudanese Australians confirmed the strong sense of disrespect in the community brought about by blocked employment opportunities and a sense of threat to their cultural identity and moral values impelled by the intervention of regulating authorities. The community felt that family law enforcement authorities did not recognise or understand their deep roots and commitment to their culture and communications from authorities were dominated by reiterations of Australian laws. But, as suggested by researchers and leading policy makers, to be constructive, policies and strategies must make effective use of people’s values and positive identities rather than ignoring them.In my presentation I give a brief description of the traditional social systems, values and institutions of people from South Sudan and how these traditional systems influence their adjustment in Australia, including their relationships with authorities. I follow this summary by considering the use of self-identity and motivational posturing theories to unpack why the intervention from family law enforcement authorities were often met with defiance and calls for respect and respectful treatment from the community. I conclude my presentation by exploring approaches to better mesh Australian law and government policy with the cultural values and identities of people from South Sudan. Ibolya (Ibi) Losoncz holds a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons I) from Charles Sturt University. Her honours research examined John Braithwaite’s Reintegrative Shaming Theory. Since 2000 she has been a senior research analyst with the Australian Public Service. Her most recent work with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) included research on post-separation parental arrangements, including compliance with child support agreements, and the work-life balance of Australian mothers. Prior to joining FaHCSIA Ibi worked in various research roles with the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics and the Australian Institute of Criminology focusing on the issues of social capital, spatial distribution of crime and drug use of offenders.Ibi’s PhD focuses on the role respect and community connection in engendering a harmonious coexistence between Sudanese Australians and the wider Australian community at a neighborhood level.

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