Family influence on refugee youth education and employment aspirations and choices

Tahereh Ziaian, Teresa Puvimanasinghe, Emily Miller, Helena de Anstiss, Adrian Esterman, Maureen Dollard, Ali Afsharian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


During cultural transition, refugee-background youth in Australia must navigate adolescence and the demands of cultural transition and adaptation, including educational and employment decisions. Using a qualitative methodology we report on a study exploring the influence of family–including parents, siblings and extended family members–on youth aspirations and decision-making regarding education and employment pathways. Based on interviews with 79 participants (46 refugee-background youth aged 15–26 years and 33 parents or caregivers) residing in regional and metropolitan South Australia, we find that although there were some tensions between youth and family expectations, motivations, identities, and acculturation in resettlement, there were also mutual support strategies that strengthened family relationships and supported youth aspirations. We note four key themes: ‘motivating and supporting’ or how families supported youth to select their future education and employment pathways; ‘Independence versus influence’ or to what extent families influenced youth decision-making; ‘clash of expectations’ between parents and youth expectations; and ‘family responsibilities’ that interfered with youth aspirations. Implications of study findings for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-133
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number1
Early online date3 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • aspiration
  • Australia
  • education
  • parent–child attitudes
  • Refugee youth
  • resettlement


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