Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Health in migrant communities

I was fortunate to recently meet a historian who is researching health in post war migrants to Australia.  Our conversation raised many questions about health in migrants communities, which of course I wanted answers to.

What would new Lithuanians do in the first years if they needed a doctor?
I know there a quite several Lithuanian doctors who came to Australia.  To practice medicine in Australia, the new migrants would have to undergo further study.  This would have been extremely hard for any new arrival.  Firstly there was the language, secondly you would have to work your two year contract before you were free to pursue a career and thirdly you had to work to support yourself and family.   

Language would have been an important factor.  To be able to communicate personal detailed information in your own language and to understand treatment would have been vital.  If no Lithuanian doctor was available, going to a doctor of a similar migrant background would suffice.

Did the community provide support to its members?
One of the principle aims of the Lithuanian Women's Society and Lithuanian Catholic Women's Society was to offer assistance, financial or in kind to members in need.  Some aims of the society were to visit the sick in hospital and assisting disadvantaged families, assist with payment of school fees, medicine.  The society’s focus has always been on the elderly members of the community.  The society in its formative years remembered Lithuanians still displaced in Germany, they sent monetary donations twice a year.

The Society has a focus on older members of the community that are alone, or have not adapted well to Australian environment.  Their moral and material needs are supported by the Women’s Society.  In exile we are one large family.
How was mental health issues viewed in the community?
Cases of suicide and detainment in mental institutions are recorded.  But are these figures any greater for one ethnic group?

I will do some more research on this, but in the mean time if anyone has stories or information to share, please do.

1 comment:

Jonas Mockunas said...

Daina - I'm not aware of any studies specifically on Lithuanians, but Aldis Putnins from Adelaide published a detailed psychological investigation 'Latvians in Australia; alienation and assimilation' back in 1981. If you can get your hands on a copy of that book, you would likely find useful information there.