Celebrating education for children seeking asylum

Celebrating education for children seeking asylum

An Australian-first program that offers free early childhood education to children seeking asylum will be celebrated on Wednesday 23 October.

Community leaders and City of Canterbury Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour will celebrate the pilot program, which allows families seeking asylum to access underutilised childcare centres in Lakemba, Punchbowl, and Campsie.   

The program is the result of a 2018 campaign led by the Sydney Alliance coalition of community groups, and NGOs working with people seeking asylum.

First announced in November 2018, the program aims to fill a gap, as children on bridging visas cannot access Federal childcare subsidies.

Uniting’s Alex Hogan, is the campaign co-chair. She said the celebration is a chance to congratulate the Council.

“Too often kids on bridging visas start school without any prior early learning experience, limited social interaction, and with little English,” Ms Hogan said.

“With this program we are setting up kids to flourish, giving them the skills and experience they need for a smooth transition into primary school and beyond.”

Mayor Khal Asfour called on other councils to follow the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s  lead.

“This program is a win-win,” he said.    

“It ensures our children’s centres are always at capacity, and residents in our City currently seeking asylum are less isolated and can better integrate into the wider community.”

Since its launch in January, nine local children from families seeking asylum have taken part, with families noticing improved social confidence and English literacy in their children. Attendees at Wednesday’s celebration will hear some of their stories, and find out how they can help expand this program.

The celebration takes place at Settlement Services International, Little Saigon Plaza, Level 2, 462 Chapel Road, Bankstown from 6 to 8pm on Wednesday, 23 October.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

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