The Australian Refugee Volunteers (ARV)  run 11 program days each year, with an adventurous activity such as horse-riding, canoeing or a high ropes course, supplemented by team building activities and discussions. Their ‘Teens’ are buddied one on one with a volunteer, offering opportunities for mentorship and cross-cultural conversations as many volunteers are migrants themselves.

It’s inspiring to see the growth in the Teens as they become adults and adapt to life in Australia. The main intended outcome of this program is to help them develop into well-rounded, self-assured young adults with bright futures – whilst having  a lot of fun along the way.

Some highlights include seeing one of the Teens who arrived without a word of English in January 2018 move from Intensive English high school into mainstream school and present in public with his youth group as part of community celebration of Harmony Day; one of the Teens securing his first part-time job in retail; discussing the ideal program day another who attends Intensive English school  – he would invite “everyone, including people who only have a little, so that [he] can help others.”

Most of the Teens “graduate” from the Teens program around the age of 16 into ARV’s Charity program, where they themselves have the opportunity to serve local communities. This necessitates a good level of maturity to act as ambassadors for ARV and contributes to social cohesion by fostering conversations and integration between the Teens from refugee and asylum seekers backgrounds and the Sydney communities they live in.