Startts, Carramar, Australia
Young refugee children aged 0-5 years often show delays in several developmental domains. This is attributable to the exposure of traumatic events associated with a refugee family’s journey towards resettlement in a new country. Engaging children and families alike, we focus on empowerment and capacity building as a way of countering the negative impacts of the refugee experience.
The Growing Playing Learning Together programme provides positive attachment based activities which enhance areas of development. Specific topics and themes address the child’s trauma recovery as well as providing parents, caregivers information on how to help their children and to continue these activities in the home environment.
Cultural and contextual factors influence the way refugee parents or caregivers engage in play or other activities with their children.
Some cultural transition is needed to increase engagement in activities that may have therapeutic value. Caregivers are invited to discuss the cultural aspects and to use activities, songs and stories from their own culture that can address the goals and themes of the sessions.
Resources such as CDs and song-story books created at STARTTS are provided along with handouts based on the session content and goals.
The programme has been piloted and evaluated using tools such as the Parent Empowerment and Efficacy Measure (PEEM), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and a modified parent survey designed by Queensland University of Technology.
Current results indicate that children make progress in several developmental domains, parents gain confidence in playing with and assisting their children. The group provides a safe non-stigmatising space where trust is built. Some caregivers and children are subsequently referred to STARTTS or other services for more in depth assistance if required.