St Ignatius Refugee Education Circle

The St Ignatius Refugee Education Circle (Circle 106) was established in early 2002 and has operated continuously since then. The members focus on helping refugees and asylum seekers gain educational qualifications to enable them to lead dignified lives and to join the Australian workforce in jobs that allow them to support their families appropriately. The group has very strong support from the parishioners of St Ignatius Parish in Norwood.

Most refugee and asylum seeker students have extremely limited financial means. Many new arrivals rely on part-time jobs to survive and have minimal or no support from Government social services. Often the students who seek help could not continue their studies without some external sources of funding. Over the years we have seen many students become independent, self-sufficient and valuable contributors to Australian society with a little help along the way.

While the group aims to help as many as possible into work, we also recognize that some secondary school students may need support to qualify for entry to tertiary courses. With the funding from community contributions, students work towards their chosen educational paths including, for example, Degrees in Law, Engineering, Commerce, Nursing, and Diplomas or Certificates in pathology collection, accounts administration, disability or aged care. Some choose short employment ready courses such as expresso coffee making, security operations, and forklift truck driving programs. These allow immediate entrance to jobs, often undertaken while they are enrolled in courses for longer term positions. In addition, we have been able to help some pay for the successful recognition of professional qualifications gained in their countries of origin.

All donations go towards course fees, computers and computer upgrades, text books, course notes, specialized tutoring and equipment such as scientific calculators, reading glasses where necessary, and resources related to compulsory field trips or internships. We refer students who need help with living, medical and other non-educational costs to Vinnies or to other Circle of Friends Circles. Some group members also become a caring contact or visitor to listen to and encourage students we are supporting.

Organisations assisting refugees and asylum seekers in the community refer students to our group. These include Vinnies House of Welcome at Kilburn, Australian Red Cross, Australian Refugee Association, STTARS (Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation), AMES, Circles of Friends and Adelaide University, which offers some scholarships open only to refugees and asylum seekers. We use an application process with a maximum of $500 per student per semester. To ensure transparency, our treasurer pays the relevant service provider on presentation of an invoice.

Contact us by email for further information, to contribute funds, to join our group, or to make an application for funding at. Or donate via Circle of Friends Australia’s secure Give Now page. Add reference of Circle 106 to ensure funds towards supporting education of refugees.