Refugee Education Support Program

The Refugee Education Support Program (RESP) is a two-year program aimed at assisting schools to identify and implement strategies which have a positive impact on the achievement, engagement, and wellbeing outcomes of students from refugee backgrounds and their families.

RESP works with participating primary and secondary schools in the government and non-government sectors in five defined geographic clusters across Victoria. The program creates a learning community across school clusters to share their practices and ideas to support each other.

RESP uses a Whole School Approach to explore five areas of action: teaching and learning, families, partnerships with community agencies, school climate and transitions.

The Refugee Education Support Program has been designed to complement DET’s Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) and Catholic Education Commission Victoria’s School Improvement Framework and supports the Refugee Accountability Statement requirements.

Children and young people from refugee backgrounds are often highly motivated, bringing with them a range of skills and strengths to succeed in their education, but can often face significant challenges in accessing the support they need to remain engaged in and successfully navigate school.

These educational challenges are often compounded due to learning a new language, navigating a new culture and social system, building peer relationships, negotiating grief and loss associated with separation from significant others and an unfamiliar and different education environment.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these barriers have become more pronounced, and more visible to schools, school staff, education stakeholders and the broader community. Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of targeted interventions and programs which promote equitable access to education and education outcomes.

In response, RESP provides schools with coordinated support to have a positive impact on the academic and wellbeing outcomes of children and young people of refugee backgrounds.

The Refugee Education Support Program has contributed to the following outcomes for past schools:

  • Schools have improved their capacity to plan for and meet the needs of refugee children and families in relation to teaching and learning practices, school policies and processes.
  • Teachers and school staff have increased capacity to engage and support children and families.
  • Families of students from refugee backgrounds are more engaged with their school, their child’s learning, and community.
  • Longer term improved school engagement, achievement and well-being outcomes for children and young people of refugee backgrounds.

An action team of staff from your school will be nominated to lead the school’s participation in RESP. They will receive expert support and mentoring from Foundation House and the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Key elements of the program include:

  • regional cluster-based workshops for your RESP action team organised around the Whole School Approach.
  • completion of a school-wide staff survey and audit process to inform the ongoing work in RESP.
  • support to develop a school action plan and implement changes to school policies and practices.
  • in-school professional learning to build whole staff capacity to work with students and families of refugee backgrounds.
  • funding to launch a pilot project in your school to support students and families from refugee backgrounds.
  • assistance to build partnerships with families and local agencies.
  • advice on aligning initiatives that support students and families of refugee backgrounds with your school’s strategic priorities and plans.
  • Periodic cluster-based Principal briefings
  • Regular opportunities to share practice with other schools in the cluster

Schools who participate in RESP will:

  • Nominate a school RESP action team of 4-7 staff members. Suggested roles include school leadership, wellbeing staff, EAL and/or leading teachers, MEAs/bicultural roles, staff with curriculum/learning diversity portfolios.
  • Enable regular attendance of selected school staff at cluster-based professional learning workshops and Principal briefings.
  • Participate in termly RESP action team meetings with both Foundation House and CMY support staff.

RESP is funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET) and is free of charge for all participating schools.  RESP is implemented in partnership with Foundation House and the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) and delivered in collaboration with Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools (MACS) and Independent Schools Victoria (ISV).

How to apply for RESP

Applications are now open to all schools in the following Local Government Areas of Victoria: Greater Dandenong, Casey, Cardinia, Hume, Moreland, Melton, Wyndham and Wodonga.

Following an assessment of your school’s application, a RESP staff member from CMY or Foundation House will be in touch to arrange a phone, online or face to face conversation to discuss further details about your school’s application.

If you would like to learn more about the program before applying, please contact Matt Rodger (Foundation House) on 0447 500 175 or  rodgerm@foundationhouse.org.au.

Before you begin your online application, it is helpful to have access to the following student numbers: whole school, EAL students, refugee-background/refugee-like students.