Harristown State High is made up of many wonderful cultures. There are at least forty-two different cultures and/or dialects represented at our school. Students who speak English as a Second Language/Dialect (EAL/D) number close to four hundred at our school and are often all thought of as refugees, however, not all EAL/D students are refugees.
A refugee is someone who has little to no choice, but to leave their country in order to escape persecution, war or natural disaster. In many cases they will flee with family, however in some cases they may have lost both parents. They may speak some English or no English at all. They suffer loss of family, friends, homes, the only culture they know and often lose many years of schooling while waiting for re-settlement in a foreign country.
Other EAL/D students in our school may not be refugees, rather their parents may be here for studies, for work or to assist or visit family. As such, they will find their adaptation to a new school, culture and country a challenge but it will be different to that of a refugee.
As a refugee there are other difficulties that may compound the challenge of settling down in a new country. Many have to deal with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and health issues faced by them through years of living in refugee camps, lack of basic food and water while fleeing, being taken prisoner and physical disabilities from landmines and torture. When accepted by a host country like Australia, refugees must respect and follow Australia’s laws and they are entitled to basic rights like any other foreigner in the country, which would be the right to move about freely, practice their religion and the right to pursue an education.
We are proud at Harristown State High School to offer all our EAL/D students a start at our Intensive language Centre where we focus on not only immersing the students in full time English lessons but slowly introduce them to the Australian culture and way of life. In our department we have a deep knowledge and understanding of the challenges faced by our new populations and we strive to assist in their settlement.
Students will later transition to the mainstream school once basic English and many other social and educational skills have been learned.