Saturday, April 02, 2005


Optimism and hard work have positively reshaped the future of African families in Australia. And the new generation of African migrants and refugees are already making good use of their new found sense of freedom and security to re-engineer the family structure; raising happy and well-adjusted children, largely, in single parent families.

Nevertheless, the new-age family structure is not without its problems, as the new arrivals suddenly discover. “It is hard for me to raise these children on my own”, says Grace, 25, a single mother of three. “The children are happy but they still want to know where their father is…They ask too many questions”.

Yet, Grace is not alone in her experience of single parenting.

In fact, many of the African children now arriving in Australia cry out for some form of parental control that is lacking in their young lives. They are found in the primary schools across the land and most of them come from single parent families. Their fathers are either missing in action. Or killed in the long running battles way back in Africa. Or separated from the rest of the family.

The high rate of divorce in the emerging communities is also a significant factor in this equation.

And yet, not too long ago, who would have thought that, within a relatively short period of time, single parenting would become the norm in the emerging African communities in Australia. It is a highly functional (and dynamic) family structure; and an effective means of survival in an alien environment.
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