School-based Programs for Children and Young People from Refugee Backgrounds and their Families

The VFST has worked in partnership with schools since the early 1990s, providing direct services to students and their families, refugee group work and professional development for school staff.

Group Work

Two group programs have been conducted by VFST in a broad range of schools, Kaleidoscope for secondary level, and Rainbow for primary level. The programs are designed to be delivered by schools in partnership with counsellors experienced in providing support to refugee families.
Two publications were produced to support schools to conduct group programs.
Kaleidoscope is featured in “Working with young people who are refugees” (1996), and Rainbow is featured in “The Rainbow Program for Children in Refugee Families” (2002). 
The Rainbow Program was initially developed with funding from the Myer Foundation, James Goold and EM Horton Family Trusts, and subsequent pilots and the publication were supported by VicHealth.

In 2003, School Focused Youth Services funded a pilot project at Preston Girls’ Secondary College to broaden the Kaleidoscope group program into a whole-of-classroom approach. This pilot was conducted in partnership with Austin CAMHS, and the evaluation generated a further pilot in three additional secondary colleges in 2004. An outline of Kaleidoscope for the Classroom will be available in 2005.

Developmental Projects

In 2001, funding was received for two school based refugee projects, comprising:

  • Strengthening Supportive Families and School Communities for Refugee Children project for primary level children and their families
    This was funded by the Department of Family and Community Services under its Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, and was completed in December 2003.
  • Pathways to Resilience project for secondary level young people and their families.
    This was funded by the Department of Health and Ageing under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for completion in 2004.

Both projects formed partnerships with Victorian school communities and produced three resources for school use, being:

  • School’s In for Refugees: Whole School Guide to Refugee Readiness (2004)
  • Human Rights and Refugee Issues teaching resource (2004)
  • HealthWize: Health Literacy teaching resource for refugees and other ESL students (2004)

Production of these resources was also supported by VicHealth, Myer Foundation,Telstra Foundation and ANZ Trustees.

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