A whole school response

Schools can offer safety, support and security to help refugee students adjust to a new life in Australia, recover from their traumatic experiences and facilitate their education. A whole school response is needed to support refugee students.

The impacts of trauma can seriously affect the capacity of young people to concentrate, perform academically and participate socially at school. It is important that everyone in the school develops an awareness of refugee experiences and their impact as well as the contribution that refugees can make to the school and community.

A coordinated approach to supporting refugee students led by executive staff and designated personnel ensures that the needs of refugee students can be addressed. For strategies see what schools can do (PDF 1.6MB).

  • ensure students and their families feel welcome in the school by creating a sense of safety, belonging and acceptance
  • assist students to understand and come to terms with the impacts of ongoing grief and trauma
  • allow time and support for students to build trusting relationships and adjust to the new country
  • facilitate access to specialist counselling support as required.
  • organise health screening – through GPs or refugee health clinics
  • monitor the ongoing physical wellbeing of students
  • provide information and advice about nutrition, dental health and hygiene if necessary
  • refer students to support agencies and health service providers if required
  • make adjustments for students on rehabilitation programs for injuries and students with permanent disabilities.
  • provide English language support
  • offer support for students to develop literacy and numeracy skills
  • provide bilingual support
  • communicate school expectations in relation to behaviour and discipline
  • encourage first language maintenance through community language classes
  • provide targeted support to ‘bridge the gaps' caused by disrupted schooling
  • make expectations explicit - social rules, behaviours, class work, homework and assignments
  • provide homework support and tutorial assistance.
  • include students in peer support strategies
  • organise school social activities that support refugee students’ participation
  • use classroom strategies that promote and support collaborative learning
  • make links to community organisations, resources and support
  • make referrals to agencies for support in family settlement needs.
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