Cultural or community attitudes about children, as well as the impact of migration and trauma, may affect CALD children’s help seeking and recovery from family violence. In this chapter, the term ‘children’ refers to infants, children and young people.

In working with children from CALD backgrounds, it is important to acknowledge that children may have different experiences or cultural identities to their parents—CALD children should be seen as clients in their own right.

For CALD children from migrant or refugee backgrounds, the experience of family violence often occurs alongside ‘being in a new country, learning a new language and set of cultural norms and being removed from extended families, friends and community support networks’[1]. CALD children may experience grief at the loss of their language, culture, family and home, or face racism or discrimination at school[2]. All of this may impact their experiences of family violence.

Children from refugee backgrounds, in particular, may have experienced pre-migration trauma or trauma throughout the migration experience. They may have witnessed violence in their homeland, been forced to flee their home, have spent time in a refugee camp, or been separated from a parent[3]. Like loss and grief, past trauma may impact children’s recovery from family violence.

Cultural or community attitudes may influence who it is appropriate for a child to seek help from. There are often culturally-specific understandings of the role of the parent, child, grandparent and extended family and of relationships between family members. Parenting styles and what is seen as appropriate behaviour for children can also differ across cultures. For example, it may not be seen as appropriate for a child to challenge an adult.

It is important to explain professional terms in plain language to children and their parents/carers, as there may not be the equivalent terminology in other languages. For example, the concept of a professional case manager or counsellor may not translate across cultures. Practitioners may need to provide explanations of roles and describe concepts in a culturally-sensitive, child-friendly way.

In addition to unpacking terminology, it may also be useful to provide parents and carers with information about the rights of children in an Australian context as well as the role of Child Protection.

Self-reflection questions

Note that the client referred to in these questions is the child.

  • What is the role of the child/parent in the culture or family from which my client comes? How has this impacted my client’s help seeking and recovery from family violence?
  • What trauma has my client experienced during pre-migration and migration, if any?
  • How can I ensure that my practice with CALD children is trauma informed?
  • How can I ensure that I work with CALD children as clients, in their own right?
  • Have I been inclusive of parents, grandparents and extended family in case planning, where appropriate?

Self-reflection tool

Additional resources

What about the children? The voices of culturally and linguistically diverse children affected by family violence: this InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence paper highlights the specific impact of family violence upon CALD families and the importance of bilingual and bicultural approaches to supporting children.

Working with Muslim women on the effects of family violence and child sexual abuse on children: this Muslim Women’s Human Rights Centre module support workers from the community sector to design and run workshops that effectively meet women’s needs.


[1] InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence (2008) What about the children? The voices of culturally and linguistically diverse children affected by family violence. InTouch: Melbourne.

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.