Parent-child Engagement and Dissonance in Refugee Families Resettling in Brisbane, Australia

Val Colic-Peisker (1) , Nigar G. Khawaja (2) , Aparna Hebbani (3)
(1) RMIT University, 124 La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000 , Australia
(2) Queensland University of Technology, 149 Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove QLD 4059 , Australia
(3) University of Queensland, School of Communication & Arts, St. Lucia QLD 4072 , Australia


This Australian-based study examined demographic and psychosocial factors associated with refugee parents’ communication with their children. Refugee parents (n = 222) from Ethiopia, Congo, and Myanmar took part in a survey. Logistic hierarchical analysis showed that parents with a higher level of acculturation were more engaged in meaningful and positive communication with their children. Parents’ acculturative stress increased their perception of intergenerational dissonance. Refugee parents’ employment status showed unexpected effects: unemployed parents reported interacting more, and more positively, with their children. Those who were confident in securing a job also interacted meaningfully with their children. Those in the workforce reported that their relationship and communication with children deteriorated.

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Val Colic-Peisker (Primary Contact)
Nigar G. Khawaja
Aparna Hebbani
Author Biographies

Val Colic-Peisker, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Val Colic-Peisker is a sociologist of migration, ethnic relations, and urban studies based at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research interests are interdisciplinary, and her research expertise spans quantitative and qualitative methods. Her over 100 publications include five books, 45 refereed journal articles, 20 chapters, 20 research reports, and other research outputs.

Nigar G. Khawaja, Queensland University of Technology, 149 Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove QLD 4059

Aparna Hebbani (School of Communication & Arts, The University of Queensland, Australia) researches refugee and asylum-seeker settlement in Australia, and the media representation of Muslims, asylum seekers, and refugees in Australia. Her ability to conduct high quality research and secure collaborations is evidenced through her grants and publications record. She has led a team that won a highly competitive Australian Research Council Linkage grant ($135,000) investigating refugee employment and intergenerational communication. Dr. Hebbani has served on the State Premier’s Queensland India Council, as well as boards of many NGOs in Australia and overseas. She now serves on the Multicultural Queensland Advisory Council.

Aparna Hebbani, University of Queensland, School of Communication & Arts, St. Lucia QLD 4072

Nigar G. Khawaja is a clinical psychologist with clinical, transcultural, and cross-cultural research interests. She studies vulnerable populations in Australia as well as overseas to enhance mental health and wellbeing. She is a course and research coordinator for the master of clinical psychology program in the School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology.

Colic-Peisker, V., Khawaja, N. G., & Hebbani, A. (2020). Parent-child Engagement and Dissonance in Refugee Families Resettling in Brisbane, Australia. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20(3), 44–58.

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