Helping migrant young people adapt to a new culture

Helping migrant young people adapt to a new culture

10 September 2019

Helping migrant young people adapt to a new culture

A youth-led education program is helping migrant young people adapt to Australian culture – supporting improvement in school engagement and increased uptake of support services. 

The Global Ambassadors Program was developed by Orygen managed headspace centre at Werribee. It has been delivered at two schools within north-west Melbourne throughout 2018/19 and builds resilience-based life skills among culturally diverse young people.

Tharindu Jayadeva, the community awareness officer at headspace Werribee, said the eight-week program that ran over the latter half of the year created a safe space where culturally diverse young people could openly discuss their cultural experiences and how they were connected to identity and mental health. The information gleaned from the discussions was then used to inform further safe conversations outside the classroom, he said.

“We’ve seen such great engagement with the program’s content, and real practical outcomes as students have created close bonds with peers and have celebrated each other’s cultures both within the program and in their wider school community,” Mr Jayadeva said.

“Positive outcomes of the Global Ambassadors Program have included increased improvements in school engagement, increased uptake of support services, and a significant increase in levels of resilience among participants.”

Mr Jayadeva said the program’s content had also promoted youth mental health awareness and inspired confident cultural advocacy in local communities. The region of north-west Melbourne where the program has been operating is home to people from more than 120 countries, who speak more than 52 different languages and dialects.

“Through the Global Ambassadors Program students have been able to have conversations that they would usually avoid in a school environment,” Mr Jayadeva said. “They also have had direct access to headspace Werribee’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) members, who have acted as mentors.”

By contributing to the program, members of the YAG have learned valuable skills to help develop and showcase their leadership and facilitation skills, Mr Jayadeva said.