A Sudanese single mother says she is considering moving back to Africa because she cannot control her teenage sons, one of which is in jail.
Asha Awur, 36, who earlier this month made headlines for her comments about her Centrelink payment not being ‘enough’ to raise her six children on, said her eldest son, who was just two years old when the family arrived as refugees from war-torn Sudan, had gone off the rails at a young age.
Now he is behind bars and his younger brother is beginning to act out.
Ms Awur and her children do not have any extended family members in Australia, and the two men who fathered the family are no longer on the scene.
The Brisbane woman believes being surrounded by family and a solid community, like the one available to her children in Africa, will instill responsibility and confidence in the youngsters, who will return as better people.
‘Back home, you have relatives by your side, they can help you. A lot of people prefer to come back,’ she said.
‘I regret coming to Australia.
‘When we came, I thought it was going to be heaven, but when our children go astray, it’s not something to be proud of.’
Ms Awur said her eldest son was an ‘angry’ boy due to a troubled relationship with his father, who left the family home when her son was 11, and was bullied when he started school because his skin was dark.
At about 15 years old, he dropped out of school and began spending time with a group of other young people headed down the wrong path. He has been arrested twice and is now in jail.
The Brisbane woman said many of the mothers in her community struggled with their teenage sons, who were often disobedient and eager to get out on their own.
‘They don’t listen when we say what you have to do. Instead they hang out with friends who tell them to “chill out”,’ she explained.
‘They talk online to meet somewhere, and we mums we don’t know what they’re doing out there.
‘[Their anti-social behaviour] is a big shame to the Sudanese communities – we have enough problems where we came from, we don’t want any more problems.’
Ms Awur said she has not been made privy to the details of her son’s crime, and fears he will be deported. She is desperate to help him, but does not know how.
‘I know he is a bad boy, but I can’t say “he’s not my son”,’ she said.
Her second eldest son is 15 years old and also beginning to act out. Ms Awur says she had brought in support workers, but he won’t work with them.
‘He doesn’t want to engage with his support worker, and he’s dropped from school,’ she said. ‘He just stays at home, and I say you have to find a job or do some training.’
Ms Awur says she has ‘no idea’ what her son is doing while he is out, and he does not communicate via phone.
The mother said she is often busy caring for her four youngest children, aged four to 14, when her 15-year-old disappears.
‘I said to his father that I want to get him out of the country, I do not like him being here,’ she said.
‘I want him to take my son to my mother in Uganda, where we have family.’
She says the sentiment is true for many mothers in the area, some who have taken drastic action and shipped their children back to family members in Africa.
Ms Awur receives $1,300 a fortnight from the Government, and says while she stands by her comments about it not being enough, she doesn’t want any extra money in her payment.
Instead, she wants the two men who fathered her children to pay her child support.
Ms Awur says she has asked one of the men, who resides in Sydney, to move closer and help with the raising of their children so she can work, but he has refused.
She believes the Australian Government is too soft on parents who do not pay child support.
‘You’re supposed to work and provide for a family, not rely on Centrelink,’ she said.
‘A lot of fathers, they’re getting away, and the mother is stuck.’
Ms Awur says officials should come into migrant communities and speak with mothers, who are desperate to ease the situation and help their wayward children.
She is currently working on refreshing her aged care certification so she can return to work, but said it is difficult to find someone to look after her young children, so she will have to wait until they are older.
Since beginning to speak out about her problems and her thoughts on the solutions, Ms Awur says she has received horrible messages.
‘I get all these insults, people say things like “b**** go back to where you came from”,’ she said.
‘I wish I had that kind of money – I would book tickets and go.’