Childcare, Mobility Decisions and ‘Staggered’ Migration

  • Harriet Westcott
  • Shanthi Robertson


Migration to Australia is increasingly ‘multi-step’ or ‘staggered’ (Robertson 2013), often involving extended periods on temporary visas before permanent residency is achieved. This paper explores how the uncertainty around long-term migration outcomes that structure staggered migration impacts on how migrants’ make decisions about mobility that concern their children and their care. This paper utilises data from in-depth narrative interviews with Asian migrants in Australia who have experienced ‘staggered’ migration across multiple visa categories. It explores three key mobility decisions migrants make around children:  bringing their children to Australia; mobility of families and family members for child-care arrangements; and considering their children’s future mobility and citizenship. We argue that multiple factors come into play in these decisions about children, mobility and care. Specific policy constraints of temporary visas (such as lack of access to subsidised social services or family reunion) shape options, but migrants’ overall sense of social and economic security in the long-term is also significant.


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