Negotiating two cultures: Chinese migrant families raising a child with a disability in Australia (2008-2011)

Project team

Rebecca Barton
Prof Gwynnyth Llewellyn
Dr Rachel Mayes
Dr Ruth Beltran (USyd)


Disability is a concept which is instantiated in temporal, social and cultural context. This is also true of the concepts of family and caregiving. Therefore, when a person migrates to another country they bring with them particular individual and cultural orientations to disability, family and caregiving which may differ from those of the host culture. Families who migrate to Australia and then have a child with a disability may be challenged by these potential cultural differences. However, very little is known regarding how migrant families go about the active process of negotiating these cultural frameworks while raising a child with a disability in a new culture.


This study aims to explore, analyse and interpret the ways in which Chinese migrant families who have had a child with a disability after arriving in Australia reconcile and negotiate the potentially different cultural frameworks around disability from their home culture and those they encounter in Australia.


Chinese-born families who have had a child with a disability within 10 years of migrating to Australia will be recruited through various community organisations in the Sydney metropolitan area. In-depth interviews informed by ecocultural theory will be conducted with each of these families.

Anticipated outcomes

This research aims to contribute to existing knowledge by: exploring the interplay between the acculturation process and the task of raising a child with a disability; and developing a theoretical framework for understanding how migrant families negotiate multiple cultural frameworks in relation to raising a child with a disability. It is anticipated that this study will also provide valuable empirical information for service providers and policy makers about the needs and experiences of Chinese migrant families in relation to both adapting to a new culture and raising a child with a disability.