A Brief Look at the Diverse Challenges Faced by Primary Educators of Children Identified as Refugees

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  • Hello and welcome to my presentation “A brief look at the diverse challenges faced by primary educators of children identified as refugees” as part of the Contemporary Issues Conference.My name is Melissa Malcomson and I have just returned from Christmas Island where I was teaching Children who were accommodated in Immigration Detention awaiting their claims of refugee status to be evaluated.
  • As a newly trained primary educator with no previous experience in teaching English as a Second Language I was shocked at the difficulty of finding helpful information to assist me in the classroom. Due to my experience I believe that it is imperative that I share the information that I have gained.Although my situation was extremely different to what a teacher on the mainland of Australia would experience, with Christmas Island being approx 2500 Kms off Perth and approx 500 km from Indonesia, I feel that understanding the context of where the children have come from will help all teachers to then go on to provide an inclusive classroom.
  • Here is an outline of the presentation. Firstly – I will be giving you a definition of a refugee – who are they ? Where do they come from?I will then give a brief history of refugees in AustraliaThen I will discuss the refugee experience on young children and its impacts on education Followed by the traumatic events characteristic of the refugee experienceFinally I will provide you with some links to resources that I found particularly useful and also links to professional development for educator's to create an inclusive classroom
  • When a person comes into Australia who declares that he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated is initially referred to as an Asylum Seeker. Once they have gone through initial checks and clearances and their claim is accepted they are then referred to as a Refugee.The definition of “refugee” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees states that “Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their homes by conflict or persecution. They are unwilling or unable to avail themselves of the protection of their own government, and must seek protection in another country”A refugee can arrive in Australia via many avenues.Firstly their claim can be processed “Offshore” – which means that the person can be in a refugee camp or living in another country when they apply for refugee status in AustraliaThen there is the Onshore program – where a person has already arrived in Australia, either by boat or plane, have their claims processed but may have to be placed in detention until this has been complete.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there being 43.7 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2010, the highest number in 15 yearsWithin Australia the number of asylum seekers who received refugee status in 2010-2011 was 13 799 (DIAC, 2011). The first identifiable groups of refugees to settle were Lutherans from Prussia who, under restrictions to their right to worship in 1839, made South Australia their home (Refugee Council, 2012). These beingHungarians, Italians and Poles For 3 decades after 1901 Russian, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian, Assyrian and Jewish refugees settled in Australia under strict criterion set by the Immigration actFollowing the Second World War, Australia welcomed 170 000 people from countries such as Poland, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Hungary (Refugee Council, 2012), who all received onboard English classes on during their trip to AustraliaIn the 1970s Australia saw the diversification of claims starting to arrive from Asia, Uganda,Chile, Cyprus,East Timor andVietnam 1981 The Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) was established to assist people suffering serious discrimination or human rights abuses with resettlement.Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Latin AmericaIn 1991 the Special Assistance Category (SAC) visa was introduced to respond to people in specific countries who are in vulnerable circumstances and have friends, relatives or connections within Australia. These were provided for refugees from countries such as Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, East Timor, Lebanon, Sudan, Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.This visa category was discontinued in 2001/2 due to the Howard government believing that it was becoming more of a “family reunion program” In recent years Australia has had an influx the refugees more commonly arriving from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and Africa. Current visa categories in Australia according to the Refugee council include a refugee visa where applicant receive a referral from the UNHCR, in-country special humanitarian visa which is rare yet designed for those unable to leave their own countries, emergency rescue visa where the applicant is under immediate threat and is usually removed from their situation within 48 hours and finally the women at risk visa designed for single mothers, abandoned or single females and children whom are under immediate threat of harm. Since the modern Refugee and Humanitarian Program began in 1977, Australia has received 392,538 offshore refugee and humanitarian entrants issuing 42,714 onshore protection visas.
  • What do you think a refugee child experiences??These are just a few of the many photos from around the worlds refugee camps….
  • The effects of the refugee experience on Young ChildrenFirst I would like to acknowledge that not all children will experience these effects yet some may display one or more of the following..Anxiety, fear and Depression – Re-experiencing traumatic events (Post traumatic stress disorder) Severed connections with people and loss of extended family support network for example griefSudden changes in attachment figures and relationshipsLost sense of safety and consistencyImpact of isolation and separationSelf concept, confidence and trust in othersSkewed perceptions of the worldShame and guilt
  • There are many impacts of the refugee experience that effects education here are just a fewRead the dots
  • Luntz 1998 describes the effects of the refugee experience as Read dots
  • The Traumatic events that are characteristic of the refugee experience includeImprisonment & torture - due to false accusations, religion, even if a child is caught TRYING to go to schoolWitnessing of death squads & mass genocideForced participation of murder and rape – on their own families, recruitment of child soldiersetcDisappearances of family and friends – which is quite a common event experienced by children as they can not always understand the situations they are inForced marches over long distancesFear tactics, including rape and amputation, as methods of social conditioningExtreme deprivation including poverty, unsanitary conditions and lack of access to health care
  • Persistent and long term political repression, deprivation of human rights and harassmentRemoval of shelter, forced displacement from homePerilous flight or escape – for example the boat journeySeparation from family members (particularly fathers)Refugee camp experiences including prolonged squalor, malnutrition, lack of protectionSexual assault within camps (camps do not equal safety)Deprivation of education, and for children, deprivation of the opportunity to play
  • Here is a list of each states Torture and Trauma services that provide Information, Training and resources in assisting survivors
  • I will give you a brief look at the Qld Program of Assistance to survivors of torture and trauma website…This is the home page as you can see there is a menu on the left hand sideWe will have a look at the Training and resource page
  • The Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (2012) list programs that would be of assistance to educators such as:Who refugees and asylum seekers are and why they leave their countriesImpact of trauma and response to traumaRefugee experiences and working with refugeesBuilding resilienceCross cultural work and working with interpretersSelf care and vicarious traumaSuicide and self harm preventionWorking with children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgroundsWorking with young people from CALD backgroundsSupporting students from refugee backgrounds in a school contextWorking with interpreters
  • Here is the resource pageThey have links to resources such as Refugee student support kitHand book for schoolsSchool teachers guide andA school counsellors guide
  • I found many resources from the Victorian Department of education and early childhood developmentHere is the resource page for Primary esl studentAlthough the resources on this page require you to purchase the item I thought that it was important that I show you the resources that I used on a regular basis as they were extremely helpful
  • As stated directly from the website - No English Don’t panic provides information and strategies for primary classroom teachers of newly arrived ESL students during their first few weeks in Australia. It provides early English language learning needs – including information about enrolment and placement – helping students settle into their new school.
  • Again from the websiteBeginning ESL – Support material for primary new arrivals supports mainstream primary classroom teachers by providing practical ideas and resources for newly arrived ESL learners. The material is organised into 16 units of work based around topics that are appropriate for newly arrived students.The activities and worksheets are designed to encourage communication and interaction between the new student, the teacher and other students in the class. Each unit contains: learning outcomes for the topic and for English learning lists of vocabulary and grammar features worksheets which may be photocopied additional references and lists of resources.
  • Where's English? is a multimedia resource to develop the English language skills of students at the beginning stages of learning English as a second language.I found this particularly useful for upper primary aged boys as the “booklets” are designed like comic books….. The student reads the comic and there are questions and answers that gradually get harder. Another positive I found was that it was linked to the previous resource
  • The South Australian Department of education and child development has recently been making changes to their programs to accommodate the Australian Curriculum, However they do still provide useful information on their sites
  • So that brings us to the end of the presentation. I have given you a definition of a refugee, a brief history of refugees in Australia, discussed the refugee experience on young children and its impacts on education and the traumatic events characteristic of the refugee experience and has given you a small sample of useful links and resources to assist you in creating an inclusive classroom.Finally I want to say thank you for taking the time to listen and also I am sure that future children with refugee backgrounds will thank you too!!
  • A Brief Look at the Diverse Challenges Faced by Primary Educators of Children Identified as Refugees

    1. 1. A Brief Look at the Diverse Challenges Faced by Primary Educators of ChildrenIdentified as Refugees Presented by Melissa Malcomson Q1222086 EDU8719
    2. 2. Where?http://www.hreoc.gov.au/human_rights/immigration/idc2009_xmas_island.html
    3. 3. Outline of presentation• Definition of refugee• History of Refugees in Australia• The Refugee Experience on Young Children and its Impacts on Education• The Traumatic Events Characteristic of the Refugee Experience• Useful Links to Resources and Professional Development for Educators to Create an Inclusive Classroom
    4. 4. Definition of a Refugee “Refugees are people who have been forced toflee their homes by conflict or persecution. Theyare unwilling or unable to avail themselves of the protection of their own government, and must seek protection in another country” http://www.unhcr.org/
    5. 5. History of Refugees in Australia• 1839 – Lutherans – Hungry, Italy and Poland• 1901 – Russian, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian, Assyrian and Jewish• World War II – Poland, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Hungary• 1970s - Asia, Uganda, Chile, Cyprus, East Timor, Vietnamese• 1981 - Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Latin America• 1991 – Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, East Timor, Lebanon, Sudan, Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Cambodia• Recent Years – Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Burma, Sri Lanka and Africa
    6. 6. What do you think a Refugee Child Experiences?
    7. 7. The Effects of the Refugee Experience on Young• Children Anxiety, Fear and Depression• Re-experiencing traumatic events (PTSD)• Severed connections with people and loss of extended family support network (i.e. grief)• Sudden changes in attachment figures and relationships• Loss of sense of safety and consistency• Impact of isolation and separation• Self concept, confidence and trust in others issues• Skewed perceptions of the world• Shame and guilt
    8. 8. Impacts on Education• Have no or minimal formal • May be suffering the after schooling in their first language effects of trauma, and in some cases, torture• Possess low levels of literacy in English • May be affected by the loss of family and be without parental• May have lived in insecure support societies where civil order and services have broken down • May have had disrupted schooling due to movement• Have experienced extreme within and between countries so violence that literacy skills are not consolidated in any one language• May have spent long periods in refugee camps or first country of • May have come from a language asylum with minimal or no background where writing is a education relatively new phenomenon
    9. 9. Effects of the ExperienceOnce in Australia, young refugees may experiencerecurring and intermittent symptoms oftraumatization, which affect concentration and learningabilities and contribute to depression and languageproblems. Where these remain unrecognized anduntreated, they are likely to impede school performanceand negatively impact on identity, self-concept, and self-esteem. In the long term, this may contribute to youngpeople leaving school at an early age, remaining in low-skill jobs and engaging with alternative, but often self-destructive means of feeling empowered, such as drugtaking and offending behavior.(Luntz, 1998)
    10. 10. The Traumatic Events• Imprisonment & torture (due to false accusations etc.)• Witnessing of death squads & mass genocide• Forced participation of murder and rape (families, recruitment of child soldiers etc.)• Disappearances of family and friends• Forced marches over long distances• Fear tactics, including rape and amputation, as methods of social conditioning• Extreme deprivation including poverty, unsanitary conditions and lack of access to health care
    11. 11. The Traumatic Events• Persistent and long term political repression, deprivation of human rights and harassment• Removal of shelter, forced displacement from home• Perilous flight or escape• Separation from family members (particularly fathers)• Refugee camp experiences including prolonged squalor, malnutrition, lack of protection• Sexual assault within camps (camps do not equal safety)• Deprivation of education, and for children, deprivation of the opportunity to play
    12. 12. Useful ResourcesQLD www.qpastt.org.auNSW www.startts.org.auACT www.companionhouse.org.auVIC www.foundationhouse.org.auSA www.sttars.org.auWA www.asetts.org.auNT www.melaleuca.org.au
    13. 13. Queensland Program of Assistanceto Survivors of Torture and Trauma www.qpastt.org.au
    14. 14. Training Page
    15. 15. Resource Page
    16. 16. Victorian Education Department
    17. 17. Victorian Education Department
    18. 18. Victorian Education Department
    19. 19. Victorian Education Department
    20. 20. South Australia
    21. 21. Thank You

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