Mother-of-six Asha Awya. Source: A Current Affair/Channel 9.
Mother-of-six Asha Awya. Source: A Current Affair/Channel 9.

Gang member’s mother speaks out

A SUDANESE mother of a convicted gang member has spoken out about trying to keep her six children out of trouble.

Speaking to A Current Affair, Asha Awya said African youngsters begin to feel alienated in their communities.

"They feel isolated, often they feel frustrated," the Brisbane woman told the show. "No one's helping them much."

Because of a lack of money and opportunities, she said they end up smoking, drinking and taking drugs.

"They came from a very traumatised environment, and coming to Australia, trying to fit in with the religion and the friends around them at school, is very challenging," she continued.

"We have all these laws, so it's just very confusing, and I feel sorry for the kids because they don't know how to deal with this.

"They end up smoking, and end up with group of the confused kids."

She also told the show how her son, whose crimes cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, ended up organising street gang meetings with other members on social media.

"Maybe they're thinking it's a fun way to deal with the problem, but they don't know they're ending up in big mess later," she said.

"They end up stealing people's stuff, breaking into their car, or taking people's credit card.

"Any opportunity that come across, then they just do it to get their money to buy more and more drugs. They don't concentrate at school. Their mind is somewhere else."

She also hit out at Centrelink payments in the interview - saying they are not sufficient to entertain her children.

"If mum always not giving me money, there's no pocket money, then maybe I have to find a way of stealing and get my own money," she said.

Her feelings have been echoed by a Sydney-based psychiatrist who works with African refugees, Ahmed Tanveer. He told that Sudanese families are often led by single parents with seven or eight children.

"Parents often don't even know their kids are in custody," he said. "Sudanese teenagers are from traditional cultures who once lived in tight-knit clans bound by family ties and religious practice.

"This rapidly disintegrates within a generation of living in Australia."

Tanveer added that the refugee experience from African countries can be especially traumatic. "Some of my patients describe having seen atrocities like severed heads and vicious torture that we can barely imagine," he said.

"It is naive to think this kind of history doesn't present challenges when trying to integrate into Australia. Troubled, disengaged or irritable parents are more likely to raise emotionally unstable children.

"Part of the youth's problems are a generational split where they feel their elders have no

understanding of growing up in Australia. It is complicated further by a parenting culture that does not place a strong emphasis on setting strong boundaries for boys, unlike the girls who are often closely controlled." or follow @bengrahamjourno on Twitter.