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Forums / Multicultural experiences / What's best for the common good versus What's in it for me?

Topic: What's best for the common good versus What's in it for me?

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    29 January 2018

    After World War II many thousands of people (mostly European) migrated to Australia, mainly to Victoria. Initially, the majority found work in factories or farms as unskilled or semiskilled labour – even educated migrants had to settle for a manual job. Community groups, churches,
    welfare agencies, newspapers and schools gradually developed within many communities due to large numbers, and eventually, the population of Melbourne constituted for many communities, one of the largest migrant settlements in the world outside of the countries of origin of these migrants.

    People from migrant and non-English speaking backgrounds can be more vulnerable than the rest of the population in many areas of their life, including mental health, diagnosis of illness and prognosis/treatments and management.

    Mental illness is a complex and sensitive issue, making it difficult to identify all factors associated with an increased risk. There are a number of possible risk factors, all of which are cross-cultural. However, some factors including social isolation, dependency on children, cultural factors, lack of information about rights and stress/conflict within the family, are of particular concern for older people from non-English
    speaking backgrounds.

    Lack of English language skills, cultural influences, loss and grief, the aging process, various illnesses and medications and smaller family networks can mean that an older person is more vulnerable to mental distress where it occurs, and that they are less likely to identify illness or seek support.

    Many elderly people have migrated from non-English speaking countries where the cultural worldview is collectivist. This needs to be understood in relation to how mental illness is perceived within their particular communities. In collectivist cultures, individuals tend to put the goals of the family before their own personal aspirations. The principle of ‘what’s best for the common good’ is more likely to be applied than the individualistic view of ‘what’s in it for me’. In collective cultures people are less likely to move between groups than in individualistic cultures.

    Older people from collectivist cultures may not highly value or subscribe to the concept of individual rights and personal choices. They may also be less likely to consider action that separates them from their family. What's your experience?

  2. james1
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • China
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    james1 avatar
    3061 posts
    30 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hello Donte,

    I find cultural differences like individual vs collective benefit super interesting. Growing up in an individualistic Australia, but from a more family-oriented Chinese background, in a household that went through a divorce, has been an odd and contradictory experience. I don't really know what to value.

    I suppose it should be an acceptance of both thoughts without needing to shoehorn into any particular group, but that doesn't ring true to me. It's like being friends with everyone, without being friends with anyone. Being caught in the middle feels very isolating.

    For my mother, I feel like she's come from a collectivist culture and has no qualms with continuing that. She seems comfortable in her own skin. My father, similar, but he's tried to assimilate more into an individualistic attitude. I think both of them struggle a bit in terms of how they cannot continue their family-oriented culture when their kids are not so keen, and their real family are back at home.


    1 person found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    31 January 2018 in reply to james1

    Hello James1,

    Your experience, growing up in Australia from migrant family is often what many children of culturally and linguistically diverse background families have been through. It is this dichotomy, of living one reality inside the home and another out of the family environment, in the wider community. Different set of rules apply to each. Different expectations etc

    Many as you've described feel lost as a result and 'in between' as integration takes time, and sometimes requires a few generations to be complete. I see it as a timeline. A continuous improvement and work in progress. In communities where people have migrated long ago (let's say the Greek for instance), it's not uncommon to find members identifying as Greek, or Greek-Australian, or Australian-Greek, or Australian from Greek descent... That shows the assimilation and natural integration process that takes place in all communities through time. The feeling of being 'a bit of this' and 'a bit of that' but nothing completely is often the case. I guess, it all comes down to the way we each identify. It's about choice and diversity and inclusiveness.

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