Symposium on refugee support services

A support service for refugees and other new migrants settling in Australia will host a symposium at Parramatta on June 5.

Settlement Services International’s ‘Cultural Shift: symposium on supporting migrant and refugee families through settlement’ event will take place at Novotel Parramatta from 9am to 4.30pm.

SSI Ceo Violet Roumeliotis said the first few years after arrival were when many migrant and refugee families faced some of their greatest challenges.

“As our population grows, it has become imperative that we work together to make the change as smooth as possible for migrants and refugees,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

Tickets for the event are $65. Details: http://regodirect.com.au/culturalshift

Case Study: STARTTerS early childhood program

What started informally as a mums and bubs group for refugees has developed into a unique model for treating trauma in young children, as well as their parents.

Described as an “integrative sensory motor music therapy”, STARTTerS is an early childhood program for trauma recovery and development that targets 0-6 year olds. As a result it is also helping the parents and carers that accompany their children to the treatment sessions.

NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) Early Childhood Counsellor and Music Therapist Rosemary Signorelli said she was not aware of another program of this kind.

 “STARTTerS uses a variety of techniques and activities that seek to reverse and overcome issues of trauma that children have faced during their short but troubled lifetime, said Ms Signorelli.

“What also makes the program unique is the use of interpreters that engage the parents as well, and builds their trust and confidence in the program.”

Ms Signorelli explained that intervention in the first five years of a child’s life is vital in helping overcome effects of trauma and prevent future mental health issues.

“A nursery rhyme such as ‘incy wincy spider’ has a great theme of resilience and together with the finger movements it’s a simple and engaging song for the children to participate in.”

Ms Signorelli is aware that the program is based on western models of parent participation and praise, and that some parents find it difficult to participate if they are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, although they can still learn strategies from the sessions which they can take home to use with their child. 

“Many parents are dealing with their own physical and mental health issues and their recovery is usually a lot slower than the child’s. Providing them with individual counselling is another unique aspect of the program and if necessary they are referred on to other programs such as Brighter Futures (also being presented at Cultural Shift).”

The program has seen 40 individual children and 45 families since it began in 2011.

Cultural Shift: support for refugee and migrant families will be the focus of a symposium in Parramatta, June 5.

Cultural Shift: support for refugee and migrant families will be the focus of a symposium in Parramatta, June 5.

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