A Deakin academic is the sole 2017 addition to Victoria’s Multicultural Honour Roll in recognition of her tireless work serving Geelong’s multicultural community.
After more than 10 years as a clinical psychologist in her home country of Iran, Dr Matin Ghayour-Minaie, a Research Fellow with Deakin University’s Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), moved to Geelong in 2007 to begin her PhD studies at Deakin.
Since then, Dr Ghayour-Minaie has worked with adolescents and families from different cultural backgrounds to help them integrate into Australian society, with a particular focus on the Iranian community. As part of her academic role within Deakin’s School of Psychology, she is assisting with promoting and developing cultural competency in clinical practice.
Her work was recognised last night as she was welcomed to Victoria’s Multicultural Honour Roll by Victorian Governor the Honourable Linda Dessau AC at Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence.
Fellow Deakin School of Psychology colleague Dr Lata Satyen also received an Award for Meritorious Service to the Community at the ceremony, for her research into family violence in culturally diverse communities and her extensive support work in these communities.
Victoria’s Multicultural Honour Roll recognises people who have migrated to Australia or arrived as refugees in the past ten years and have shown leadership in their communities and fostered understanding between different cultural groups.
Soon after her arrival, Dr Ghayour-Minaie co-founded the Iranian Society in Geelong, and in 2010 she started Geelong’s first ever Persian language radio show.
“I was coming into contact with different Iranian people, and realised that there was a big need to help newcomers integrate into society,” she said.
“There are lots of differences in culture and lifestyle and I can understand the difficulties migrants may have in adapting to those.”
“Coming from a Muslim background is sometimes hard because of the assumptions that most people have as a result of misguided information they see on TV or receive through some media that do not really show the true people.
“We just want to show the broader community we are all human beings and we can live together and respect each other’s cultures and beliefs. There’s no difference between Muslims, Christians or Buddhists – we are all people and part of one society.”
A skilled social researcher with expertise in health service consulting, data analysis and family interventions, Dr Ghayour-Minaie’s research focuses on alcohol and drug use problems and early prevention, parenting, adolescent mental health and transition to young adulthood.
She is currently working on developing a program for parents from migrant and refugee backgrounds to assist them with improving the parenting skills they need to raise their children in harmony with Australian culture while respecting and embracing their own cultural values.
Through her work at Deakin, Dr Ghayour-Minaie is managing “Resilient Families,” a school-based intervention program working with parents, secondary schools and students.
“We want to help the three groups come together to promote family involvement in strategies to overcome conflict, and to improve problem solving, positive relationships and educational attainment,” she said.
“This is a one-of-a-kind program in Australia, and we are working to develop it further so it’s effective with different cultural groups, identifying any special needs they have and adding them to the program.”
Dr Ghayour-Minaie said migrant and refugee teenagers typically had a faster rate of integration than their parents, and that included overcoming the language barrier.
“Adolescents learn much quicker because of school and social activities, but also because of their age. That sometimes means parents can feel like they’ve been left behind, and that they don’t know the rules,” she said.
“We want to look at how we can help support these parents to integrate their values into this new society, while also adding the new knowledge of Australian culture to their parenting.
“We’ve found the program has a big effect on reducing drug and alcohol abuse, as well as anti-social behaviour and delinquency. Parents who attend the program also have a higher confidence in their parenting.”
Main photograph (from left): Dr Matin Ghayour-Minaie and Victorian Governor the Honourable Linda Dessau AC
Published by Deakin Research on 24 November 2017
The Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED) aims to promote emotional health from conception to young adulthood and into the next generation. SEED recognises the seminal role that experiences in early emotional life have on social development, that every age and stage matters in building wellbeing, and that confidence in holding both positive and painful emotion is essential to felt security, exploration and personal growth across the life course.View Website