When tragedy hit Christchurch on March 15 2019, the Muslim community stood up to support each other. But how have those who held dual roles, as a victim and a support worker, coped?

‘Which hijab am I wearing today?’ is the title of new research underway by Research Fellow Dr Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill, thanks to a $109,557 grant from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation. Her research will look at the challenges of dual relationships for people from the Christchurch Muslim community. Previously she has researched the psychological impact of the March 15 terrorist attacks.

Dr Sulaiman-Hill, who works at the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Canterbury, says she’s delighted to receive funding from the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation to take her qualitative research to the next stage. 

Many initiatives providing support and treatment for victims of the March 15 attacks have employed Muslims from the Christchurch community. These people are known and trusted, with appropriate cultural and linguistic skills, however working in a professional role within your own social group can be challenging. 

Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill

“Many Muslim staff in support roles were also victims and vulnerable to psychological impacts from re-traumatisation. We will look at this risk while also considering any positive outcomes experienced by those who worked directly with victims of the March 15 attacks.

“We hope this research will lead to a better understanding of some of these issues, which are likely to become more significant as culturally responsive services are developed and other world views are acknowledged. We also envisage our findings will be a valuable tool to inform future employment strategies.”

Dr Sulaiman-Hill has a PhD in International Health from Curtin University in Australia, degrees in Political Science and Religious Studies from New Zealand and a background in Medical Laboratory Science.

More information can be found here.

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