'To the Arabic Community Disability Is Not Normal': Multiple Stakeholder Perceptions of the Understandings of Disability among Iraqi and Syrian People from Refugee Backgrounds

Publication Name

Journal of Refugee Studies


In 2015, the Australian government committed to take an additional 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq prioritizing those considered most vulnerable including people with disability. The aim of this preliminary study was to understand, from multiple stakeholder perspectives, the experiences of settling in Australia for people with disability from Syrian and Iraqi refugee backgrounds living in Sydney. Interviews were conducted with nine family members of 11 people with disability from Iraqi and Syrianrefugeebackgrounds;eight IraqiandSyriancommunityorganization leaders; and seven community and health refugee service practitioners. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using the thematic analysis. Three themes were identified that contribute to understandings of disability based on the perceptions of the multiple stakeholders interviewed: Iraqi and Syrian perceptions of 'disability'; beliefs about who is 'responsible for' the disability; and comparisons between Iraqi/Syrian and Australian views, attitudes, and approaches to disability. Understandings of disability are shaped by fluid and dynamic factors, including culture. It is essential that services are offered to people with disability and their family members using a whole-of-person, culturally informed approach to community support.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access





First Page


Last Page




Link to publisher version (DOI)