Negotiating with real estate agents, opening up bank accounts and filling out long Centrelink forms are some of the tasks refugee youth, and kids as young as eight-years-old, are doing to help their parents settle into Australia.
A 65-page report, compiled by Western Sydney University and settlement service Host International has found refugee youth end up becoming accidental cultural mediators.
This is due to a noticeable gap in the availability of translating and interpreting across many services refugee families face while seeking independence.
Lead author Kuwthar Aumarah, 25, said she herself had become and still is a 'life broker' for her family acting as the interface between services and her parents.
"Helping our family with bureaucracy and forms, taking them to doctors and translating, we've had to do that while also being pulled and pushed from so many different cultures," she told AAP.
"We're all helping our families and communities in one way or another because there's such a lack of services that it become our burden to bear."
Ms Aumarah, who is of Mandean background arrived as a refugee from Iraq with her family 15-years ago, escaping persecution as a discriminated minority.
Mandeans are a small Aramaic-speaking sect that honour St John the Baptist as an important religious figure, with thousands settling in southwest Sydney in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq 20 years ago.
The report was led by peer refugee researchers who interviewed and conducted focus groups with 65 youths of refugee-background aged between 16-25 online in NSW in 2021 at the height of lockdowns.
Compared to non-refugees, young people who take on the role of life brokers, whether they are happy with it or not, have more stress as families become dependent on their child as a "third parent" in a full-time capacity, the report, released on Friday, said.
That role permanently alters the young person's maturity and organically makes them grow up earlier than most.
"You’re just a child and you're taken to like serious places and you're expected to understand what's going on and then translate that to your parents - there's a bit of pressure," another young refugee said.
Ms Aumarah, who is studying law, said the added pressure of balancing familial responsibilities and adjusting as a young person exacerbates the sense of feeling like an outsider.
"We grow up alongside our friends and peers, but we're not the same," she said.
On top of dealing with intergenerational trauma from escaping conflicts in their homelands, young refugees are also coping with racism towards them and their parents.
"Seeing how your parents...or other Arab or Iraqi people are treated kind of hurts," another young interviewee cited in the report said.
"I’ve seen some incidents of racism... and it’s difficult to see."
The study found most youth services operate primarily from a western framework that does not adequately recognise the complex family and cultural dynamics at play during resettlement.
“There's such a lack of availability for mental health resources, especially for youth, that not everyone can afford paying $180 or $220 per session to someone that could help them," said another young refugee.