Supporting School Engagement for Refugee and Migrant Youth in Melbourne’s South East 

enliven is working in partnership with EACH and local headspace sites to increase understanding and develop solutions to address the unique and complex challenges that many refugee and migrant youth face in school engagement within Melbourne’s South East. This project plays an important role in identifying and understanding persistent health and social inequities, and to identify strengths and opportunities to support and promote educational equity for all young people within our catchment.

A young person’s levels of school engagement can be a critical factor and influence upon their future social and economic opportunities, and health and wellbeing outcomes more broadly. Despite there being a significant amount of evidence and research around understanding the protective and risk factors of school disengagement, and methods of addressing this; significant limitations exist around how the effectiveness of interventions in addressing this issue within highly multicultural school settings. Several barriers have been identified as uniquely impacting the educational engagement of young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds. These include a range of intersecting challenges such as resettlement, racism, discrimination, trauma, intergenerational conflict, cultural norms, cultural competency of teachers, cultural safety, and transitions from language schools into mainstream education.

The project was completed in two phases:

Phase One: Framing the issue [July – December 2020]

A number of key activities were undertaken to increase understanding of the issue locally, including; identifying strengths, risk factors, protective factors, and what is currently being done to promote school engagement/ prevent disengagement.

  • Literature review and local data report
  • Key informant interviews
  • Focus groups, interviews and surveys (students and families)
  • Research report

Phase Two: Solutions [early 2021]

The second phase of the project was informed by the findings made in Phase 1. A series of recommendations and key opportunities were identified and explored together with project stakeholders, in order to develop a clear and feasible plan of action. This plan incorporated a range of strategies to address disengagement and/or promote engagement for refugee and migrant youth within key sites and schools that are currently supported by EACH and headspace.

Final Report

The final report titled ‘School Disengagement among Refugee and Migrant Youth’ in South East Melbourne is now available to view and download via the link below.

School Disengagement Final Report (2021)

Key Project Contacts:

Kate Lowsby (Health Promotion Manager)

Georgia Langmaid (Health Promotion Officer)