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Supporting Young People from Syria and Iraq – Lessons from the Ucan2 Program.

Supporting Young People from Syria and Iraq – Lessons from the Ucan2 Program.

Ucan2 is an education and settlement program that facilitates and supports the social inclusion of newly arrived young people of refugee backgrounds between the ages of 16 and 25. The program assists recovery from trauma, and builds on the young person’s strengths, integrating their past and present experiences and supporting their future. Ucan2 is underpinned by Foundation House’s recovery principles and Ager and Strang’s framework for integration.

Recently, Ucan2 has been adapted in response to the arrival of young people from Syria and Iraq – specifically those who have had access to relatively uninterrupted education prior to their displacement. Many of these young people were on linear educational pathways prior to arriving in Australia, including commencing or completing tertiary studies, and many have professional career aspirations.

In this presentation, we will outline how participants have been involved in informing Ucan2’s development, including a stronger focus on tertiary education pathway planning, and career development support. We will also discuss the challenges of allowing for innovation in a well-established program originally designed ten years ago for young people with disrupted education.

Merna and Suhail have had strong perspectives on how the needs of young people like them can be better supported. They will discuss the challenges faced by young people in navigating educational systems which are often not designed to support
aspirational thinking. They will explore how Ucan2 addresses these challenges, and how the program has impacted their settlement
and sense of wellbeing.

They will also discuss the implications for current youth settlement practice and the importance of reconnecting young people to educational and employment pathways that are resonant for them. This will highlight the role of supported transition into educational and employment pathways in the process of recovery from trauma for young people.