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Supporting Wellbeing and Social Inclusion for Young People of Refugee Backgrounds: evaluation of the Ucan2 Program.

Supporting Wellbeing and Social Inclusion for Young People of Refugee Backgrounds: evaluation of the Ucan2 Program.

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, Foundation House, Melbourne, Australia
Young people of refugee backgrounds face multiple challenges in engaging in education and employment following settlement in Australia. Pre-arrival experiences are characterised by exposure to violence, loss, persecution, perpetration of human rights violations and forced displacement that includes prolonged insecurity and often protracted periods in transit countries with significant disruptions to formal education.
The Ucan2 program has been developed cognisant of these experiences to support the social inclusion of newly arrived young people of refugee backgrounds aged 16 to 25. Delivered in partnership with the Centre for Multicultural Youth and education and employment service providers, it focuses on building on young people’s strengths, integrating their past and present experiences and supporting their future. It aims to support learning and employment pathways that connect young people of refugee backgrounds into the Australian community by combining an integrated group work program, work experience and mentors from major Australian
employers.
We present findings from a recent University of Melbourne evaluation of Ucan2 conducted between February and October 2017.
Surveys and focus groups or interviews were completed by 215 current and 132 past Ucan2 participants and 37 other stakeholders including facilitators, teachers, volunteers and mentors. Participant surveys were conducted at the beginning and end of the 16- week program to assess changes to wellbeing, resilience and social networks. Interviews and focus groups explored participants’ experiences of the program and its impact on engagement in education, training and employment.
The evaluation demonstrated that Ucan2 effectively supports young people of refugee backgrounds by providing a holistic response to the challenges they face; fostering confidence and self-efficacy, English language learning, social connectedness, and participation in employment and education. It is highly valued by the young people who participated and by the range of other stakeholders who took part in the evaluation