Support for refugee students

Students from refugee backgrounds in schools, especially those with disrupted or no previous schooling, require additional support to develop the English language and learning skills they need to succeed in Australian schools.

They may also require specific support in relation to settlement, dealing with migration and pre-migration experiences and transition to mainstream schooling.

Whole school support

  • The Foundation House Schools Support Program – provides specialist services and support for schools to improve the wellbeing and engagement of students from refugee backgrounds, including professional learning.
  • Foundation House Schools Support Program Resources – include School’s In for Refugees; A whole-school approach to supporting students of refugee backgrounds and Klassroom Kaleidoscope: a program to facilitate connectedness and well-being in the culturally diverse classroom.
  • Good practice principles (pdf - 633.56kb) – provides a guide for working with young refugees that suggests core values, principles and practical actions for providing consistent and responsive services.
  • LMERC - provides resources and advice about resources to teachers of refugee background students.

Refugee Education Support Program (RESP)

The Refugee Education Support Program (RESP) is a Department funded initiative in partnership with Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) and Foundation House in collaboration with Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV) and Independent Schools Victoria (ISV).

The Refugee Education Support Program (RESP) aims to have a positive impact on the educational and wellbeing outcomes of young people from refugee backgrounds in Victorian schools.

The program works with schools to identify and implement strategies to support the achievement outcomes, wellbeing and engagement in learning of students from refugee backgrounds through:

  • the provision of professional learning and consultation which builds the capacity of school staff and out-of-school-hours learning support providers, including volunteers
  • community engagement and participation strategies which support recently arrived families from refugee backgrounds
  • the development of partnerships with community, business and government organisations.

Schools participating in the RESP are set up as a cluster. Clusters operate for two years and are grouped by geographical region.

For more information about the programs, see:

To express interest in participating in future RESP clusters, contact:

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Wellbeing Supplement

This targeted initiative provides funding to eligible schools to support the wellbeing needs of students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds for the 2017 to 2020 school years.

The Student Resource Package (SRP) Guide contains more detail and a school information sheet. See:

Cultural background information

Increasing teacher and student awareness and understanding of different cultures and the refugee experience assists in creating a school environment supportive to refugee students.

Find out about the situation in the main countries of origin of current refugee groups through sources such as:

Supportive classroom environment

Some students have had very little or no access to formal education as a consequence of their refugee experience. These students will have limited literacy skills in their first language and knowledge gaps across the curriculum.

Ensure that refugee students also have access to education programs to meet their diverse educational needs, including:

Refugee Week

For further information, see:

Schools are encouraged to involve their staff, students and communities in activities to raise awareness of Refugee Week through the school curriculum, extra-curricular activities and neighbourhood or network events during the week.

In addition to classroom activities associated with Refugee Week, schools may wish to consider:

  • choosing children’s and young adult literature and picture storybooks with a focus on refugees
  • involving students in organising a student forum or debate on a relevant topic, a school or network poetry or essay competition, or exhibitions of student artwork
  • local community participation in developing garden areas or murals featuring themes from students' countries of origin
  • staging school assemblies, concerts, or family twilight activities celebrating the diversity of the local community.
  • LMERC – offers a wide range of publications, materials and resources useful for planning Refugee Week activities.

More information

  • Settlement support – includes linking students and their families to appropriate services, communicating effectively with families and linking with the community.
  • Transition support – needs to occur as students transition between schools and from schools into further education or employment.
  • Promoting wellbeing for refugee students – links to support services for refugee students and their families.
  • Thinking about the refugee experience – provides activities that can be used in the classroom to help students explore refugee issues and understand the refugee experience.