Supporting Refugee Youth

catholiccareThrough your donations CatholicCare is assisting young vulnerable refugee people to make a stronger start in life in Australia. There are a number of concerning issues impacting young refugee people settling in Geelong – isolation and despair because of family separation and stress and anxiety of their uncertain future. Additionally they are often pressured by the compulsion to attend school, learn English, keep up with educational standards, which is further compounded by uncertainty given they may not be eligible for any further support from the community (in terms of funding or programs).

CatholicCare received a $30,000 grant to implement the Settle Well program for young refugee people at North Geelong and Northern Bay Secondary Colleges. The Settle Well program helps young refugees navigate the challenges of adolescence, re-settlement and trauma through a comprehensive support program. As part of this program CatholicCare implemented the Justice Education Program at the Geelong Magistrate’s Court.

Refugees in North Geelong recently completed the program. For 9 weeks in term 3 they assembled at the court in conjunction with Australian born teenagers to hear about how young people can interact with their community in safe ways.

The program provided a speaker each week from local agencies and services presenting relevant legal information. Topics and partners covered included Barwon Adolescent taskforce/cyber safety and how young people can embrace the positives and avoid the negatives of life online, Barwon Child Youth and Family/drugs and alcohol. Geelong Police/how young people might enter a career in the police force, CFA Belmont/how fire in our community is dealt with. Then the program culminated in a mock trial facilitated by Barwon Community Legal Service. This gave the students the chance to consider what really happens when you come into contact with the legal system.

For new arrivals that have different cultural laws and civil structures the program lets them know what to do and who they can turn to for help, both important to helping them “settle well.”