Hello, I’m Eman Al-Dasuqi. I have been living and working in Australia for 13 years. I grew up in Jordan and I’ve been lucky to experience some of the many Arabic cultures in the Middle East.
This deep understanding of culture helps me navigate through my work with people from Arabic backgrounds. For example, in many Arabic cultures, we have a spiritual saying ‘Heaven lies beneath the feet of your mother’. In Arabic cultures, caring for parents is not a matter of choice; it is the way we measure a person’s worth.
In essence, translated documents need to be written so people pick them up and see their cultural values reflected. In Arabic cultures this means things like caring for parents, united families, and respectful young people.
1. Why is there a need for translated information in Arabic communities in Australia?
Having helpful information translated signals to readers that the content creators are serious about inviting them to join in the conversation. Even highly educated migrants, who speak English well, are likely to make important decisions in the language in which they are most comfortable.
2. How are caring responsibilities different in Arabic culture than mainstream Australian culture?
In Arabic culture, caring for a loved one who is dying is a complex area. Traditional roles, spirituality, cultural beliefs, complex logistics and informed decision-making all intersect. For example, key areas to consider when reviewing English drafts include:
Caring Responsibilities in the Arabic Culture
Caring for parents in their older years, especially when they are unwell, is a traditional role and an expectation on a social and a spiritual level. A carer will often prioritise their caring responsibilities over their personal interests and needs.
Who makes the decisions and how?
Decision-making is influenced by the person who is actually receiving care, combined with professional opinions, the lived experiences of relatives and friends, and spiritual beliefs.
3. Are there any additional challenges that a person from an Arabic culture may have in caring for a loved one in Australia, in contrast to their home country?
Help and Support
Carers in their home country will have family members and friends show up at their doorstep when things go wrong. Such visits come with support such as financial help, holistic and traditional medicine, cooked meals and prayers. These social visits keep the carer and their loved ones engaged and supported.
In Australia, Arabic people often live with their immediate families only, so they may have limited access to these community supports. They may also become very resourceful and self-reliant as they juggle settlement. This can mean forgetting when and how to ask for help.
Familiarity with Australian Services
Depending on what stage of settlement the carers are at, they may be unaware of the social, financial and medical support available to them and how to access it.
Caring for someone with the opposite gender
In these circumstances, this can cause strong discomfort and stress for carers and loved ones, especially where intimate hygiene practices are required on a daily basis.
Gender roles and finances
It is often the case that the main financial provider in an Arabic family in Australia is a male partner. They may not have included their partner's name on their mortgage, superannuation, bank accounts and assets. Women carers may not have the financial or legal literacy to navigate a male partner dying.
4. Are there any differences as to how advanced disease, dying, or bereavement are understood and discussed in Arabic culture?
Doctors and medical specialists are highly regarded in Arabic culture, but they are also expected to communicate the diagnoses in a non-rigid way.
No matter how hopeless the case is, many people with an Arabic culture want to acknowledge the power of God as the ultimate decision maker.
5. Finally, how might the CarerHelp resources be best used with people with an Arabic culture?
Here are a few ideas to consider. CarerHelp translated resources to be:
- Made more widely available to patients and their carers by clinicians, doctors and health service providers
- Promoted and shared in places where members of the Arabic community meet regularly, such as community centres
- Explained and introduced by a speaker in a virtual or face-to-face social gathering
- Promoted via sponsored social media such as Facebook. To get the best outcomes, these posts need to be in Arabic.
Author: Eman Al-Dasuqi, Cultural Consultant, Cultural Competence Trainer and National Health Education Support Officer