Darwin college helps young refugees get back to school

A Darwin Catholic school has partnered with a local refugee centre to help young people from a refugee or humanitarian program background transition to school in Australia. Source: Teacher Magazine.

By Rebecca Vukovic, Teacher Magazine

To date, the program has supported 20 students – some of whom have fled from places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

St John’s Catholic College Principal Cameron Hughes says the college has a focus on Catholic identity, quality teaching and learning, and pastoral care.

“The goal of the partnership between Melaleuca [Refugee Centre] and St John’s is to support and connect young people to education, and as a Catholic college we see this partnership as a big part of our mission,” he said.

Mr Hughes has taught at St John’s since 2004. In 2018 he was appointed acting principal and has since been appointed to the ongoing position. In his first week as acting principal, Mr Hughes visited the centre to introduce himself and the college to the Melaleuca staff.

“A few weeks later, a Melaleuca case manager contacted me as they were having trouble placing some recently arrived students in a school. The students enrolled at St John’s and from here the partnership grew,” Mr Hughes said. “Before this, the school was well placed to support students from a refugee or humanitarian program background, however, had not explicitly cultivated a relationship with the refugee centre.”

The students from this program have achieved great success, and have taken on leadership positions in the school, Mr Hughes says. The 2019 college captain and the 2020 captain and vice-captain have all been through the program.

Mr Hughes said there is a high level of integration of refugee students and their families into the school community – through academic, sports, cultural and religious programs.

He shared the story of two students – Chol and Wal Akol Jok, who fled South Sudan with their family and migrated to Darwin in 2018 as part of the Australian Government’s Refugee and Humanitarian program.

For the brothers, the support from the Melaleuca Refugee Centre and St John’s has been vital in making the transition to life in Darwin a success. Since commencing at the college in 2018, they have completed the intensive English program and are now in Year 12.


Community partnerships: Supporting refugee students (Teacher Magazine)

This article first appeared in CathNews
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