Some of the key issues for children relocating to Australia may be:
1) Language barriers
Even with English language proficiency, which educational institutes require for enrollment, children may find Australian slang and style of language difficult to comprehend at first. Many foreigners finding the
It is also common for students to assign nicknames to their classmates, especially males, which is often done in Australia by extending or shortening someone’s surname. eg. Peter White is likely to become ‘Whitey’ and Tim Robinson ‘Robbo’. This practice is not seen as disrespectful but rather a ritual of mateship.
2) Different school system and education style and expectations
The approach used within
* Actively encourage students to problem solve and learn through questioning
* Require less memorising and more practical based learning
* Focus on developing students interest and enthusiasm for learning
* Require students to have
* Provide regular feedback to students about their studies and behaviour
* Encourage individual thinking and participation
* Hold regular class discussions and debates
* Place emphasis on personal, intellectual and emotional growth
* Assess the above as part of student’s grades
If a student is not used to this type of learning then it may impact their self-esteem and confidence. This approach can be particularly challenging for children from Asian and other non-European backgrounds who may be used to a more formal school room setting.
3) Leaving friends and making new ones
It can be daunting to move to a new school even within the same area, let alone another country like Australia. While
The distance between Australia and other countries can also impact the opportunities to visit old friends, compatible time zones for phone calls, and the costs of communicating long distance. When
To help children settle in Australia, the following strategies are suggested:
Prepare the children for what their life in Australia will be like. Talk about
Read stories about Australia, particularly
Maintain open lines of communication throughout the move process. Contact the
Children will not be able to help in all areas of the move to Australia, however where they can assist it is a
Give children an opportunity to explore Australia before arriving. Look at websites to see where they will be living, as
articipating in different activities.
Get children involved in their new life once in Australia. Children often adjust more easily to a new environment than adults as they are more intensely involved in the life of the new society.
It may be
It is also important not to communicate items until they are finalised eg. what school they will be going to, as changes may cause confusion and concern.
If possible, relocate to Australia the beginning of a new school term. This allows children to start the new school year fresh, instead of having to endure being ‘the new kid’ in the middle of a term.
There are short 2-3 week breaks between most terms, except for the long summer holiday period at the end of the school year from late December. Private schools, including Catholic schools, may slightly vary their holiday breaks so specific information should be obtained directly from each school.
Schools also have student free days each year for curriculum & school development. Only teachers attend on these days, so parents need to provide care for their children if they are not independent enough to be at home on their own.
d) Making New Friends
Children need to be encouraged to make new friends, but also to maintain contact with old friends who can provide familiarity, especially if the child will be returning to the old location in the future. Once settled in a new home, consider hosting a welcoming celebration or party for children’s friends and their parents.
In Australia it is common courtesy to meet the parents of children’s friends, so parents may want to meet you before allowing their child to visit at your house with your child/ren. However meeting other parents can also provide an opportunity to start developing support networks or advice on settling children in Australia.
A useful website is http://www.kidspot.com.au/schoolzone/index.asp.
e) Explore Feelings
Children will have similar feeling to adults when faced with a relocation, including sadness, apprehension, anxiety and home sickness. It can also be stressful to find themselves in an unfamiliar
Their feelings may even be stronger as they may not be able to balance their thoughts as
Children are naturally adventurous and can also become very excited about their new life in Australia. This needs to be balanced with their commitments to current studies and friends.
Australia has a Kids Helpline website that provides useful information and support by phone, website or email.
f) Organise Farewells
If children will be having an upcoming birthday or holiday in Australia that they had previously planned to have at home, allow them to have an early celebration with their friends before leaving if possible. If not possible, consider celebrating in Australia upon arrival with
Remind them to collect email and home addresses, so that they can keep in touch with friends after the move. This may need to be done on behalf of younger children. Planning a goodbye sleepover or small break for children at a trusted contact’s house may also provide parents with time to undertake tasks such as packing.
g) Provide Ongoing Support in Australia
Children will often need help to integrate into Australia, especially if attending school and at the age where they need to make new friends. Parents can fall into the trap of focusing on all the tasks that need to be done upon arrival, however should also dedicate time to helping children to settle.
This task also applies to any children who have remained overseas eg. for educational reasons, who will also need to integrate into that new lifestyle. These activities should be undertaken within the first few weeks of arrival to help make the transition easier from the start, and then ongoing as needed.
Review the children who are impacted and what issues & concerns there may be. Research ways to minimise these and help the children to deal with the changes they face.
Research shows that focusing on strengthening family bonds can be beneficial for relocating children. Reinforce ties by verbalising parental support, love and commitment to making the move a success for the child.
Immigrating to Australia as a family is very different to relocating as a single person or couple, so it is