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Mercy Connect Ballarat – Helping Refugee Children in Schools

MERCY CONNECT is a volunteer program that helps refugee school students adjust to life in Australia. For students adjusting to a new language, different social rules and educational practices, school can be a daunting place.

The Mercy Connect program recruits, trains and supports volunteers to assist refugee students. Volunteers all have a background in school education. They may sit with a student during a class, explaining terms and requirements so they can more easily keep up with the class. The volunteers also help refugee students meet their homework requirements, making sure they understand what is being asked of them and generally supporting the students as they transition to life in Australia.

Photo: Mercy Connect mentor assisting a Year 11 student

Mercy Connect is a program run by Mercy Works. The original Mercy Connect Project began in Sydney in 2008 then expanded to Melbourne in 2011 and Ballarat in 2012.

Mercy Connect Ballarat was launched in July 2012 with mentors supporting students at a local catholic and government secondary school. The project has expanded in 2013 to include another government secondary and two primary schools. There are currently 17 volunteers supporting 25 students across the five schools. Slowly news of the project is getting out into the local community. The project has recently received a grant from the Telstra Country Wide Community Fund to cover the cost of our volunteer training sessions. More about Mercy Connect can be found on the Mercy Work website.

Messages to Paulene Barton – Project Coordinator – Mercy Connect Ballarat