A whole school response

Schools can offer safety, support and security to help students from refugee backgrounds 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.

What schools can do

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 students from refugee backgrounds led by executive staff and designated personnel ensures that the needs of these students can be addressed. For strategies see What schools can do (PDF 1.6 MB).

Support strategies

  • Create a sense of safety, belonging and acceptance in the school to ensure students and their families feel welcome.
  • 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 school and a new country.
  • Facilitate access to specialist counselling support as required.
  • Organise health screening through GPs or refugee health clinics.
  • Monitor students' physical wellbeing.
  • 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 disability.
  • 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.

  • Arrange and provide support with post-school options.

  • 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 and referrals to community organisations and resources to support settlement.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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