Entering a new culture can be a daunting experience, especially for refugees who may have experienced trauma in their lives.
ALNF’s award-winning Refugee Action Support (RAS) program provides effective support for refugee students as they grapple with the language and literacy demands of the classroom.
We recognise the complexities that these young people face, and understand why it is so important to help them make a successful transition into Australian schooling.
Through the RAS program, we recruit, train and place skilled volunteers in schools with a high number of refugee students, to provide face-to-face learning support. Schools participating in the RAS program cover the Western Sydney, South Western Sydney and the NSW Riverina region.
The program involves a special three-way partnership between ALNF, the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) and participating universities, so that students who are enrolled in relevant courses, such as education and speech pathology, act as literacy tutors in one-on-one and small group settings. In many cases, the university students gain course credit while working closely with primary and high school students.
RAS has been recognised as an exemplary initiative by the Refugee Council of Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and the MacJanet Prize for Global Citizenship.
Subtext: Art for Literacy
Subtext: Art for Literacy is an intensive art project that merges visual arts with the written word to provide a powerful means for young people of refugee background to express the complex, diverse aspects of their pasts, presents and futures.
Engagement with the arts has proven social and cognitive value, and can play a role in connecting individuals to community and giving a voice to the marginalised and disenfranchised. Subtext: Art for Literacy provides refugee youth with inspiring and talented arts mentors, who provide productive spaces in which students are able to explore new, creative ways to express their experiences and ideas.
In recognising the enormous power to connect to people and our own internal voice through written language and the arts, The Australian Literacy Foundation encourages students to use any language and art form, without restrictions or censorship to express themselves and tell their stories.
This artistic process becomes a way to facilitate conversations, communication skills, language development, reflective practice and literacy. In addition, the medium of art allows young refugees to communicate personal, often difficult experiences that may otherwise be difficult to express, and can be an important step towards coming to terms with past traumas.