CatholicCare Student Refugee Fund sets up for success

A new partnership agreement between two Catholic agencies will help students who are refugees to gain an even footing with their peers.

As part of Australia’s Harmony Week 2022, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle agencies CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning and the Catholic Schools Office have agreed to establish a CatholicCare Student Refugee Fund.

The Fund offers a wrap-around package for refugee students who are attending, or would like to attend, Catholic schools within the diocese and are experiencing poverty or distress.

CatholicCare refugee caseworkers will help eligible students access up to $6,000 a year for expenses like school fees, resources, tutoring or other forms of support or extra-curricular activities, counselling and mentoring services.

Danielle Reed, a primary school principal in the diocese, says the Fund will have a significant impact.

“Many of our school’s migrant families currently only pay minimal school fees, negotiated on a case-by-case basis. We also often help with the cost of things like uniforms, incursions, excursions, sport, costumes, school camp, laptops and, where necessary, translators.” she said.

She says the CatholicCare Student Refugee Fund will help formalise the support available to the students and provide additional means to make their access to education resources more equitable.

The CatholicCare Student Refugee Fund’s establishment followed a series of state-wide consultations undertaken by the Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People between 2018-2019, in which they sought the views of young refugees and asylum seekers.

The study found participants frequently said education was one of the best things about being in Australia. They said it opened up opportunities for their future. Many also reported enjoying school excursions, something they had not experienced in their home countries.

Reed says the study reaffirms what she has observed within her school community.

While all the children are happy to be at the school, she says “you notice there’s a heightened sense of appreciation from students from a refugee background to be in your class or particularly to be handed a new school uniform or go on an excursion.”

“The CatholicCare Student Refugee Fund will provide an added boost to students across the diocese,” she says.


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News category: World.