Women from multicultural backgrounds smile for a group photo
Community workshops help families to feel confident interacting with Australian schools and other services. © NSW Department of Education and Communities

Supporting Refugees on arrival


Government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups often work together to support settlement needs in health, education, employment and basic services. Some examples of partnerships are:

SPARK program (St Vincent de Paul Society NSW)

SPARK is a community -based program of the St Vincent de Paul Society that engages volunteers to provide education and settlement support to newly arrived children and families of refugee backgrounds.
SPARK partners with local schools to enhance the school's ability to support newly arrived families. Placing the school at the center of the initiative provides an important entry-point for families with early intervention, support and referral to other services.

SPARK has sixteen school partnerships in Western Sydney. Over 300 volunteers and 300 children participate in after school educational, social and cultural programs each week (such as Bright Sparks- in school support, and Family Group). The children and their families come from over 30 different nations and the committed volunteers come from many different cultural, socio-economic and religious backgrounds.

About the SPARK program »

Families in Cultural Transition
(NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors - STARTTS)

Families in Cultural Transition, (FICT) is a series of participatory workshops delivered by STARTTS-trained facilitators in the preferred language of newly arrived parents, families and communities from refugee and refugee-like backgrounds.

FICT workshops have been running for many years to help families to feel confident when interacting with service providers and become connected within communities, especially schools.

FICT addresses areas of concern to parents including parenting attitudes and practice in Australia, school life, keeping family relationships strong and how to use Australian support systems. Facilitated sessions help participants to talk about the effects of refugee trauma on their families and children and to learn about how and where to find help when it is needed.

In 2012 STARTTS and the NSW DEC Multicultural Education Unit partnered with two schools to pilot a new way to bring FICT into schools.

The schools engaged Nepalese families from Bhutan (Evans Intensive English Centre) and Arabic-speaking mothers (Auburn West Public School). The schools provided a space for the weekly program, childcare for under school-age children and a member of staff to work alongside a trained STARTTS FICT facilitator who spoke the preferred language of the group.

About Families in Cultural Transition »