Cultural Identity as a Determinant of Health among South Sudanese in Sydney, Australia

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Vaughan, Geraldine ORCID: 0000-0002-0132-9946, Nyanhanda, Tafadzwa T ORCID: 0000-0001-6502-5645, Rawal, Lal ORCID: 0000-0003-1106-0108, Kaphle, Sabitra ORCID: 0000-0003-2350-6568, Kelly, Jenny ORCID: 0000-0003-2149-9069 and Mude, William ORCID: 0000-0003-1961-5681 (2023) Cultural Identity as a Determinant of Health among South Sudanese in Sydney, Australia. Health and Social Care in the Community, 2023. ISSN 1365-2524


Background. The issue of identity has been widely explored among migrant populations in western countries in the context of cultural integrations and acculturations. However, there is less evidence on identity as a determinant of health and social wellbeing. This study reports on identity as a determinant of health among the South Sudanese community who arrived as refugees through an Australian humanitarian program in the early 2000s. Methods. A qualitative study was undertaken, underpinned by a phenomenological framework that characterised the lived experiences of adult South Sudanese in Sydney, Australia. Semistructured in-depth interviews explored how 26 participants identified themselves in Australia, including changes in their experiences over time, their social and general life situation in Australia, and how they felt perceived in Australia. Data were audio-recorded using a digital voice recorder, transcribed verbatim, coded, and categorised into themes using interpretive thematic analysis. Results. Participants described a multiplicity of interconnected domains that governed the negotiating and making sense of identity, in turn mediated by other interwoven personal and structural factors that shaped experience and perception. Expressions of hope, pride, and achievement were threaded through several of the interviews, particularly in relation to their children. There were also frustrations related to employment challenges and discrimination that limited identity ownership. Conclusions. The evolving and often conflicting factors identified by participants can shape their sense of belonging, integration, and social and mental wellbeing. A deeper, more nuanced understanding of bicultural identity within a strengths-based framework is needed, with improved partnerships and services to support and strengthen South Sudanese community integration, belonging, and acculturation in Australia.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1155/2023/4981800
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords identity, health and wellbeing, social identity, Sudanese, Australia
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