Liminality, the Australian State and Asian Nurse Immigrants

E. M. Willis, L. D. Xiao


Over the last two decades the flow of Asians to Australia through legitimate immigration programs has accelerated. This is particularly the case for Asian nurses coming from countries that were once subjected to European colonisation. The difficulties encountered by nurses from Asian countries mirror those of earlier waves of migrants. These include navigating the language and differences in cultural mores, values, and beliefs, along with the loneliness that may come from leaving strong family ties at home. While racism has been evident for all earlier waves of migrants, Asians face an additional hurdle linked to the uneasy relationship Australians and the Australian state has with Asia. Australia is geographically in Asia, but culturally Anglo and European.  The impact this might have on the working relationships of Asian and Australian born registered nurses is significant given the nature of their work in caring for the sick and elderly. This liminal relationship between the Australian state and Asians provides a theoretical insight into the particular difficulties experienced by Asian nurses and the integration programs that might assist them and their Australian colleagues to develop cohesive working relationships.


immigrant nurses; Asian Century; liminality; post colonial; third space

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