Startts - NSW Service for the treatment and rehabilitation of torture and trauma survivors  

Working with the parents and carers of children with refugee backgrounds

From the editor’s desk

Welcome to the Autumn 2016 edition of Hints for Healing! In this issue we’ll be examining how teachers and counsellors can work with parents and carers* to the benefit of children with refugee backgrounds.

In my consulting and professional development work with schools, teachers often tell me that the barriers to engaging this demographic of parents often appear insurmountable. Most commonly, schools cite language and cultural barriers, childcare responsibilities, different ideas about parents’ role in their children’s education and insufficient school resources as the major contributors to instances of parents' limited involvement in the school community. This is not to say that there are not many parents with refugee backgrounds who manage to overcome these challenges to make significant contributions to school life and to the education of their children.

However, schools consistently identify their interest in becoming more inclusive of parents with refugee backgrounds. In this issue, you will find an interview with Haitham Jaju, Team Leader of the Parents’ Cafe at Fairfield High School, a program which has had much success supporting the integration of parents into the school community. I will also present an article of ideas on what schools can do to increase parent participation in the school community. The article is based largely on some excellent resources published by our sister organisation, Foundation House, in Victoria.

The other half of this issue will focus on how counsellors can work with parents to aide their therapeutic work with children from refugee backgrounds. We know that trauma often disrupts the secure attachment between children and their parents, so it is important that our therapeutic work with children also addresses the parent/child relationship. Although most children’s counsellors involve parents in the assessment phase of their work, contributing authors in this issue share their experiences and knowledge on working more comprehensively with parents of their clients. In Deb’s Digest, STARTTS Clinical Psychologist Deb Gould explores what the role of the counsellor is in the attachment between a child and their parent/s. STARTTS Child and Adolescent Counsellor Demiana Mangaryos presents a de-identified case study of her work with her seven-year-old client Jes and the therapeutic work she did with Jes’ parents.

I sincerely hope that this issue will help build your confidence and skills in parental involvement, within both school and therapeutic settings so that parents can become valuable partners in meeting children’s educational and therapeutic goals.

*Hereafter, ‘parents’ is used to refer to biological and adoptive parents, guardians and carers.

Best wishes,
Nicole Loehr

hintsforhealing@startts.org.au

Deb's digest

Deb Gould
> Deb Gould is a STARTTS Clinical Psychologist and
clinical supervisor.

As usual, the way we view this season’s topic will be informed by a mix of cultural and individual perspectives. Let me state my position from the start: When seeing someone under 18 for individual therapy:
I would see their parents at least once – how else do I get proper consent for the work I’d like to do with their children?
Maybe twice – just to gather a bit of history to better inform my work. (Some trauma treatment models, such as Witness to Violence, require clear, factual information from parents about an event before the work can proceed.)
Three times? I’ll need to give them some feedback about how things are going!.
Learn more >>

Case study: 'Jes'

Lillian Mai
> By Demi Mangaryos, STARTTS Child & Adolescent Counsellor

The following case study includes reporting of the first phase of Jes’ tretament, which involved intervention with Jes’ parents. Jes is a 7 year-old girl from Iraq who arrived in Australia one year ago on a humanitarian refugee visa with both her parents and her three-year-old brother. Jes attends a local primary school in Western Sydney.
Learn more >>

Interview with Haitham Jaju, team leader of the Parents’ Cafe, Fairfield

What is the Parents’ Cafe and how did it come about? The Parents’ Cafe is a kind of community centre for the parents of students at Fairfield High School and IEC (Intensive English Centre), and more recently, for parents from refugee backgrounds in the Fairfield area.
Learn more >>

Partnering with parents and carers at school

Lillian Mai
> Nicole Loehr, STARTTS School Liaison Counsellor

Schools that have invested in supporting the inclusion of parents from refugee backgrounds benefit from the enhanced learning and sense of belonging of their students, as well as the cultural and language expertise these parents can bring to the school community.
Learn more >>


Nicole Loehr
> Nicole Loehr is the School Liaison Counsellor and Project Officer at STARTTS

From the Editor's Desk

Deb's Digest

Case study: 'Jes'

Interview at the
parents cafe

Partnering with parents and carers at school

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Workshop
Core concepts in working with children and adolescents from refugee backgrounds 22 July 2016

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Workshop
Cultural Competence in Working with People from Refugee Backgrounds 20 May 2016

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Workshop
Clinical and Community Interventions in Early Childhood with Refugee Families 28-29 July 2016

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Disclaimer The information contained in Hints for Healing is provided as an information source only. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the position or views of STARTTS.  The material is provided on the basis that readers are responsible for making their own assessments of the issues discussed, and always work under clinical supervision.

© 2016 STARTTS  Contact: hintsforhealing@startts.org.au