Parenting SA

Families are the most important thing in children's lives. Keeping your family strong can help everyone adapt to a new life in Australia.

Keeping families strong

In strong families, people:

  • help and support each other
  • show love and respect
  • talk and listen
  • look after their health
  • care about each other's feelings
  • solve problems together
  • celebrate good times
  • get help when needed.

Families coming to Australia may have experienced hardship or violence, or lost people or places they love. When family members feel safe and cared for, it can help them heal.

Strong families accept each other's differences. Everyone feels loved and respected.

Enjoying time together strengthens family relationships.

Family health

Being healthy is important for everyone in the family. Some things that help are to:

  • eat healthy food
  • be active
  • get lots of sleep
  • protect skin from the sun
  • see a doctor if someone is sick. Ask about check-ups for women and men
  • get children checked too. Some have ear problems which can affect hearing, speech and learning
  • visit a dentist regularly. Most children can get free dental care
  • make sure everyone is immunised against diseases, especially children.

Women are often busy looking after others. Their health is important too.

Healthy food

Eating healthy food can help prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancers. These are big problems in Australia.

It's best to:

  • eat foods such as vegetables, lean meats, fish, rice, legumes, cereals, fruit, eggs, dairy
  • keep eating healthy foods from your culture
  • limit foods high in fat, salt or sugar, such as chips or lollies, even if children want them
  • drink plain tap water
  • breastfeed babies if you can.

Healthy pregnancy

If you are pregnant, it is best for baby if you:

  • see a doctor or nurse regularly
  • don't drink alcohol or smoke.

If you have had a baby and feel sad or worried, your doctor or nurse can help.

Smoking near pregnant women or young children harms their health. Doctors can help you stop smoking and improve your health.

Being active is great for the whole family. Go for walks, play in the park, do things you enjoy.

What about feelings?

Strong families care about feelings. Families coming to Australia can feel:

  • happy and excited about a new life
  • relieved to be safe
  • worried about people left behind
  • affected by the past, even when in a safe place.


Sometimes roles in the family change and this can cause stress.

  • Mums at home with children can feel alone, sad or tired, especially if they have little help from others.
  • Dads can feel frustrated or angry if there is no work. They may feel they have lost their role as provider or authority in the family, especially if women in the household are getting more money.
  • Some dads become more involved in parenting and this can take time for them to get used to.
  • Many parents don't have the extended family support they had before, and can feel alone.

If anyone in the family seems sad, worried or angry, ask if they are OK.


Children can feel stress and grief too. They can show their feelings in how they behave.

Children may:

  • become very quiet, afraid, angry or fight a lot
  • wet the bed, feel sick, have sleeping or eating problems.

These responses to stress are normal, and show that children need help from adults. If you are concerned about your child, talk with a doctor, their school or other service.

It takes strength to survive hardship, war, violence or losing loved ones. If anyone feels scared, in pain or alone, there are services that can help.

If anyone in the family seems sad, worried or angry, ask if they are OK.

Family violence

Family violence is a problem in all communities and cultures. It is never OK. It harms everyone in the family.

Violence can be:

  • physical, such as hitting, pushing, pinching, hair pulling
  • emotional, such as shaming, telling lies about someone
  • making threats, such as they will be deported, lose their children, about a dowry or other debts
  • keeping passports or other documents
  • not letting someone see family or friends
  • not respecting a person's culture or religion
  • controlling money or use of contraception
  • making someone do sexual things they don't want to do.

Violence can be used by husbands, wives, teenagers or extended family members. Most family violence is towards women and children.

Violence in the family makes it harder for adults to care for children.

How violence affects children

The stress of family violence harms children even if they don't see or hear it.

  • It affects how their brain works - they can't grow or learn as well.
  • They can feel scared and alone.
  • When they are at school, they can worry about what's happening at home.
  • Babies in the womb can be affected too.

If there is violence, let children know it is not their fault. Get any help and support they need.

There is no place for violence in a strong family. It is against the law in Australia.

Staying safe

It is important for you and your children to have a safety plan.

  • Work out where you will go if you don't feel safe.
  • Teach children how to contact people who will help them.
  • Teach them how to phone the Police on 000 if there is danger.

Why it can be hard to leave

It can be hard to leave family violence. Many people fear:

  • more violence towards themselves, their children or family overseas
  • losing their children
  • being blamed or rejected by their community
  • not being allowed to stay in Australia.

They may:

  • have nowhere to go, or anyone to help
  • feel afraid to contact a service, or not know about them, especially if English is not their first language.

It can help to know you are not alone. You could talk to trusted friends or family, or contact a service. It's best to do this before things get worse.

If you are using violence, there are services that can help you learn better ways. Violence is never the answer.

Contacting a service

Services are there to help you.

  • Your doctor, school or services at the end of this Guide are good places to start.
  • Many are free.
  • It doesn't matter what kind of visa you have.
  • You can get help if you are still living at home or have left the relationship.
  • It's OK to say 'No' to interpreters you don't feel comfortable with. You can ask for a telephone interpreter instead.

If you are worried about your visa, it is very important to get legal help. See free legal services at the end of this Guide.

Phone the Police on 000 if there is immediate danger. If you need an interpreter, keep saying your language, such as 'Dari, Dari, Dari' or 'Arabic, Arabic, Arabic'.


See parent information and support.

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Last published: 07 Aug 2020 3:43pm

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © DHS .

Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
02 Mar 2021
Printed on:
07 Dec 2023
The Parenting SA website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016