May 15, 2019

Building Harmony

Spectrum aims to deliver a holistic and wrap-around service response that assists clients to integrate, thrive, contribute and achieve, while actively promoting and embedding economic participation and social cohesion into service delivery.

Spectrum’s proven track record, and deep experience combined with a contemporary client centred approach uniquely positions us to provide services that move seamlessly with clients as they settle and move around the northern and western growth corridors of Melbourne and surrounds.

Engaging with young people of refugee and migrant backgrounds requires an understanding of the unique and complex set of challenges they face.

Spectrum employs youth workers trained in coaching and employment pathways to provide targeted support to young clients. Amongst the suite of programs is the critically acclaimed Parenting in a New Culture Program, developed to support parents to learn practical parenting skills to enable their family to thrive in Australia.

Spectrum’s new Parents and Teens in Harmony (PATH) program grew out of an identified need through the PINC programs. PATH aims to support families as their children grow into teenage years, and begin to embrace teenage life in Australia, and the very unique challenges this presents to parents of refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Harmony for Karen teens

The Karen community has established strong roots in Melbourne and is emerging as a thriving community. They are creating new roots largely in the western suburbs of Melbourne after fleeing conflict in Myanmar and spending, sometimes years, journeying to Australia, often via Thailand.

Recently, Spectrum’s PATH program was delivered to 28 participants from the Karen community of Myanmar over the course of a weekend camp in Pennyroyal, regional Victoria. Most uniquely, participants spanned 3 generations; teenagers, their parents and grandparents, and involved Spectrum Youth workers, family relationship team and bi-cultural workers, all working towards creating family harmony in homes with teens of Karen backgrounds, in Australia. Appreciating inter-generational conflict that each experienced as a result of the extremely different life experiences was critical to the program’s success. The PATH program provides education and support to teenagers from migrant backgrounds and to their parents, to increase inter-generational understanding, to promote connection to culture amongst the younger generation, and to enhance communication and harmony in the home during the crucial adolescent years.

Participants have reported genuine wonder at the outcomes from the program. The learnings and experience provided a framework for parents to begin to treat their children as young adults and to praise their young people for their endeavour and courage in this new world. These programs are emotional experiences and require participants to bring open minds to embrace change, to establish confidence and trust in each other.

Participants reflected on the healing provided though sharing their stories of their own journeys, discovering how to tell the stories of childhood, of decisions and trauma to resolve layers of hurt and behaviours built by generations of displacement.

“My mum had many things to tell me, it made me cry because we do not usually talk like this”

Fostering new foundations based on love and mutual respect will enable these families to adapt to the challenges their young people will experience over the coming years. The goal is connected families, who then cast tall pillars of leadership amongst both generations to inspire connected communities.