Helping children from refugee backgrounds

Findings from our recent study on the Sacred Heart Homework Club found that the children greatly valued their relationship with their tutor (ACU students), with the tutor not only providing instructional support, but also providing social and emotional support and a sense of belonging. You can access the study, published in Health and Social Care in the Community, on the Wiley Online Library.

At ACU Engagement, we value monitoring and evaluating our community engagement projects, to evidence impact and identify areas for improvement. Sacred Heart School in Fitzroy, Melbourne, is one of our long-term community partners. Children from the school are predominantly from refugee backgrounds and have experienced some disadvantage. One of the community engagement opportunities offered at Sacred Heart is a Homework Club, where the children receive one-on-one weekly support from an ACU student.

The study was designed to capture both the children’s and tutors’ voices, to understand the benefits and challenges the children experienced through participation in the program. We found that the program provided a powerful vehicle for building connection and making a lasting impact on the children. The program not only supported the children in their learning, but also encouraged positive behaviours and engagement. One child stated:

Child 3:“He [tutor] changed how I feel about school and learning, because he made learning more fun.” Year 5 focus group.

Tutors similarly expressed that the program was so much more than just providing homework support. One tutor aptly expressed:

Tutor 2:“When you think of tutoring you think you’re just there to sort of help them with their homework basically, but…after being through it, it’s more than that. It’s developing a bond with them and making them feel at ease I guess. Perhaps if there are things going on in their personal life, at least there’s some kind of fun time as well for them at least once a week with their tutor, where they do their homework but they also get to play games and stuff like that. So I feel like it’s definitely more than just the homework."

We thank ACU students for the positive difference they are making in the lives of the children at Sacred Heart School!

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