Thursday, November 15, 2007

The African Family Forum

The African Family Forum was, recently, held in Adelaide city under the auspices of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC).

The Lt. Governor of South Australia, Hieu Van Le, opened the forum with a passionate (and timely) speech about the African contribution to the Australian society.

During the forum, the African community leaders highlighted the enormous challenges facing the new arrivals in raising families in Australia due to the significant differences in child-rearing practices between cultures.

There were also some concerns about the negative impact of government policies on the African family life and cultural survival.

These issues were discussed at length during the forum but effective solutions were difficult to come by.

Specific concerns were expressed about the uncertain consequences of using physical punishment to discipline children - an emotional issue for the new arrivals; and one in which there’s no immediate solution.

Another critical issue of concern to the African community in South Australia is the impact (on family life) of the direct Centrelink payments to young people. (Centrelink is an Australian Government Statutory Agency charged with the responsibility of supporting those in need.)

The controversial issue of payment to young people was aired at the forum without any firm proposal for action.

Nevertheless, the discussion of this issue was one of the most significant achievements of the forum.

Here, it should be noted that the forum was organized by SAMEAC to bring together African community leaders and service providers from various government agencies.

In attendance were the senior government officials from the Centrelink and the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, as well as delegates from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations

Members of the powerful Multicultural Education Committee (MEC) in South Australia also attended this important forum.
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