Fund amount:
$30,000 for one year

Location:
Statewide

Year:
2018

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Breaking down barriers for asylum seeker children

The Refugee Migrant Children Centre (RMCC) will expand its work with young people from asylum seeker, refugee and migrant backgrounds with Braybrook and Sunshine Colleges, with the help of a $30,000 grant from the Ross Trust.

Founder and CEO of RMCC, Alice Wojcik, said “We have had many kids and schools on our waiting list for some time, and with the investment Ross Trust has made in our Sidekicks program it ensures another 40 children who now call Melbourne home will have the support network and guidance they need to prosper at school and the wider community.”

Since its establishment in 2012, the RMCC has helped over 800 children and young people tackle the unique and complex barriers faced by refugees, asylum seekers and those from migrant backgrounds seeking to settle in Australia.

The RMCC’s Sidekicks Senior program has been established to consider the pre and post settlement journey and its impact on educational and social outcomes, given the school system and teachers are not set up to tackle the likely barriers to success.

Well over 80 per cent of the students from each of Braybrook and Sunshine Colleges comes from a non-English speaking background.

The $30,000 grant for 2018-19 will help fund the expanded Sidekicks Senior program at the two colleges engage 40 youth (aged 13-17) from refugee, migrant and asylum seeker backgrounds who are in high need of specialist support outside of traditional services.

Along with educational activities, the program will include topics such as resilience and failure, identity and belonging, intergenerational conflict, walking between multiple cultures, building life skills and knowledge, forming support networks, accountability and confidence building.

The challenges for refugee students are magnified when you consider 20 per cent of females and 13 per cent of male refugees have never attended school and 44 per cent of females and 33 per cent of males don’t understand spoken English prior to arrival. Fifty per cent of children from refugee backgrounds live in relative poverty.

The young people who participate in the program are mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Burma and Samoa and they are supported by volunteer mentors, who have often gone through the resettlement experience themselves and are willing to share and offer to support to those who follow. Some of the training for the mentors is provided by the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Alice says the most important outcomes of the program are “increased engagement in learning, the classroom and school community, as these need to be prioritised before positive educational and social outcomes are seen.

“When a child forms this foundation then education or self-improvement will always be a part of their life.”

Melbourne University has been engaged to formally evaluate the Sidekicks Senior program.

Read more about RMCC and its programs to empower children and youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds.