These large ethnically diverse metropolitan families often pool multiple low to middle incomes for grocery, rent and mortgage payments, however there is also a high incidence of tiny or nil personal income due to stay-at-home mothers of young children, students and post-education children seeking work. Despite low incomes, they strive to cover the costs of private education, hoping to provide younger members with better opportunities later on. Children may live at home into their 20s while they finish study and join the workforce—and often remain until marriage when they move nearby and quickly have their own children. No one in the family is independent, but each securely interdependent within the home network. Aspiring Immigrants are the most likely to be Middle Eastern, with Asian and European heritage also common.
Walk with Me
My husband Bashir and I did not meet until our families had come to Sydney, even though we are the same age and both born in Beirut. We moved here with our families as teenagers—Bashir first, me one year later—and our parents became friends through the local mosque. They were very happy when we told them we were together and getting married.
Twelve years on, we now have four beautiful children—and one more on the way. There was a gap between Walid starting school and now when I got to work a bit in a fabric shop, but now we are back making do with Bashir’s income as a warehouse administrator.
Yes, it can be chaotic in our little rented house, but I like all the loud noise and drama. Neither Bashir nor I went to university, so we want our children to have a good Australian education. The local high schools in our area are not so good. Our eldest Salim is in year eight in a private high school. Sonia will start next year, but then I don’t know how we can afford Haaz and Walid too.
We miss Lebanon and try to go back every couple of years. Bashir and I take turns, and can only afford to take one or two children with us at a time. Beirut is a wonderful city, and everyone dresses up to go out dancing at night.