Thai Community in WA
There are between 5 -10,000 Thai people currently living in Western Australia. The Thai population has increased significantly in the past 25 years, the majority being female spouses of Australians. In the last decade, the need to provide Thai language skills for the children of these families has become increasingly evident. There are a high proportion of such families who travel regularly to Thailand for short holidays and family visits. For many of these young people, a desire and curiosity to learn more about their Thai heritage and particularly the language, remains unfulfilled. This is most apparent when children visit their Thai relatives and have little capacity to communicate with them.
The need to promote a strong sense of pride among the Thai community also exists. Cultural identity is often less apparent with Thais than with other groups, because of the much greater likelihood of ‘mixed’ families. For the young, matters of heritage and identity may be unclear, especially in a diverse community where English prevails but where other ethnic groups are prominent. It is also the case that creating a greater awareness of Thai culture for children of Thai origin is likely to provide a better understanding of their culture among all Australians.
It is desirable for children, young adults and others to have the opportunity to have access to a facility to attend to this need. The opportunity to provide increased status for Thai language skills and foster greater understanding about Thai culture should have beneficial effects in families where usually the dominant language is English and the prevailing way of life may exclude the shared Thai heritage. Greater awareness and familiarity with their heritage, integrated into their home life, enables children to participate more readily in both communities and establish a sense of pride in both cultures. The school is an endeavour to fulfil this need and forms the basis for realising a positive means of support for all Thai families in Perth and WA.