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Spotlight on Migrant Mothers

Media release
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spotlight on Migrant Mothers

Migrant new mothers in New Zealand are the focus of a study being conducted by AUT University researcher Ruth DeSouza.

AUT’s Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research Co-ordinator, Ruth DeSouza, has been awarded a Families Commission Blue Skies grant to carry out this study, as well as receiving funding from Plunket Volunteers.

“The overall aim is to find out what helps and hinders these women,” says Ruth.

“Migrant mothers can be caught between their new culture which holds their aspirations, while working hard to incorporate their traditional culture and the values that have shaped who they are.”

Ms DeSouza is working with the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society on this study and has held focus groups with women from a range of ethnicities who have had babies within the last year.

“New Zealand’s immigrants are often brought in to fill workforce shortages, so women are predominantly of child-bearing age. Adjusting to a new country is unpredictable – it can be a slow process and raise issues when they have children.

“Families often lose their support networks and rituals when they migrate and their strengths and resilience in managing the transition to parenthood can disappear,” she says.

Ms DeSouza has a longstanding interest in migrant mothers. She did her Masters of Arts thesis on mothers from New Zealand’s Goan (India) community and will focus on migrant mothers for her PhD this year.

AUT’s Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research has been involved in migrant and Asian health research for more than 10 years, working to improve these population groups’ access to healthcare and wellbeing.

The centre widely disseminates its findings to inform policy development, health care providers, health professionals, students, policy makers and the wider community.

The Families Commission Blue Skies Fund provides grants for small studies that address gaps in knowledge, or offer new or innovative ideas and approaches to family issues.


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