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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

MEDIA RELEASE: New Report findings highlight enhanced learning and wellbeing outcomes for young refugee learners and enhanced capacity in schools through state of the art service provision


Thursday 4 November 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Today STARTTS will present a live online webinar from 4:00-5:00pm AEDT to mark the official launch of the STARTTS in Schools (SIS) Evaluation Report. This report highlights the achievements of the STARTTS in Schools Strategy. It reveals how successful partnership with NSW Government has enhanced learning and wellbeing outcomes for young people with a refugee experience.

Moderated by Dr. Greg Gow of The Victorian Survivors of Torture Foundation Inc., the launch will include an interactive Q&A with STARTTS CEO, Jorge Aroche and members of the evaluation team.

The launch is endorsed by The Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning and Prof. Peter Shergold AC, NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Settlement.

Working with schools at the systemic level has become a crucial aspect of STARTTS’ work.

The STARTTS in Schools strategy is delivered through internal collaboration between the School Liaison Program, Child and Adolescent Counsellors and the Youth Team, together with an external partnership with the NSW Department of Education and Catholic Education Office.

This integrated model has increased STARTTS’ capacity to provide targeted and specialised support to schools and refugee learners across New South Wales regardless of their visa class or date of arrival.

“We know that the current crisis in Afghanistan has had a substantial impact on Afghan families in Australia and since August there’s been a steep increase in people seeking help through the organisation. The work that is being done by STARTTS to provide counselling and therapy to those who need it is just so important and it means that students can get the support they need to continue their schooling,” said The Hon Sarah Mitchell MLC, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning.

“The work that is being done by STARTTS to provide counselling and therapy to those who need it is just so important and it means that students can get the support they need to continue their schooling,” said The Hon Sarah Mitchell MLC, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning.

“Having worked alongside schools since our inception 30 years ago, we recognise the expertise of teachers, the leadership of principals, and the commitment of schools, in providing for the education and wellbeing needs of all students. Our STARTTS In Schools Program, offers what I consider to be the state of the art in provision of services to support refugee young people who have been affected by the impact of trauma and other stresses associated with the refugee experience and resettlement,” said Jorge Aroche, CEO STARTTS.

“I am proud to present this report, which I believe not only describes the value of STARTTS and the Department of Education jointly offering complementary services to young people in the school environment, but also goes a considerable way into developing an evidence base for the efficacy and appropriateness of this approach to service provision.”

“I look forward to NSW STARTTS continuing this important work. I remain persuaded that ongoing engagement and collaboration in schools will continue to deliver positive outcomes for young people from refugee backgrounds, and, by doing that it will enhance their capacity to contribute to our nation,” said Prof. Peter Shergold AC, NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Settlement.

The recommendations based on the findings of this report include that STARTTS in Schools should continue to provide support to children and young people of refugee background, as well as continue to enhance the capacity of those working in schools to provide appropriate support to learners with refugee experience.

STARTTS offers services in over 170 schools, including specialised training to some 3,000 educators and welfare staff across NSW.

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ENDS

Media inquiries contact 0432 286 851 or email Karen.Collier@health.nsw.gov.au
Media welcome to attend. Register to attend here.

 

Summary of Key Findings

  • Accessing STARTTS’ services supported different dimensions of wellbeing of school aged children and young people of refugee backgrounds. The analysis of the World Health Organization’s Five Wellbeing Index (WHO-5) from students sampled suggests improvements in mood, stress levels and sleep as a result of their participation in STARTTS’ programs.
  • Results show that there was a decrease of 20% in assessed overall average stress scores after the students participated in STARTTS trauma-informed activities.
  • Student participants reported feeling happier (97%) as STARTTS’ programs supported them to increase their sense of belonging, friendship and social connections.
  • Similarly, teachers reported improvements in their students’ academic performance (87%) including grades, self-confidence, focus, concentration and engagement in the classroom.
  • Notably, teacher responses (80%) indicated that students who participated in STARTTS’ programs experienced significant positive change in their interaction with peers and teachers at school.
  • Data collected from forty-eight training sessions provided to 1,118 school staff across NSW schools during this period indicates that a variety of school staff benefited from receiving this training.

Access the full report here.

 

About STARTTS

The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) is a not-for-profit Affiliated Health and human rights Organisation which has been providing services to survivors of torture and refugee trauma in NSW for over 30 years. It provides culturally appropriate services to help people recover from torture and refugee trauma, foster their empowerment and self-determination, and rebuild their lives in Australia. STARTTS also fosters a positive, effective and culturally sensitive recovery environment through the delivery of training to services that work with refugee populations, advocacy and policy work. STARTTS has worked with over 76,000 clients since commencing in 1988. In recognition of the complex impact of trauma on brain development, STARTTS continues to prioritise children and young people.


STARTTS in Schools Strategy

STARTTS in Schools Strategy (SIS) supports the psychological welfare of children and young people of refugee background. It works in close partnership with the education systems and directly with school communities. Its overall aim is to improve education, employment and mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people of refugee background. SIS consists of three main components – the School Liaison Program (SLP), trauma-informed direct service programs and individual interventions through Child and Adolescent Counsellors and a team of specialist Youth Workers. Support provided includes individual and trauma-informed group-work interventions, professional learning and consultation for school staff, development and support of school clusters to promote partnerships and implement whole of school approaches and systemic changes in schools.

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