Significance & Innovation


child.jpgThis research seeks to counter the ubiquity of deficit views of students from refugee backgrounds (Valencia, 2010). Recent research has demonstrated that school completion rates for refugee students are significantly lower (62%) than for other Australians (86%) (Correa-Velez et al., 2016; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015). Leaving school early negatively impacts on individuals’ capacities to contribute to the social and economic development of society. It is therefore important that schooling practices that support and enable school completion and success for students from refugee backgrounds are identified. 

This study is significant because:

  1. It will promote a better understanding of the strengths of these students, as well as the policies and practices in schools that build on these strengths to foster refugee student resilience. 
  2. It will provide education sectors, schools and refugee service providers with crucial knowledge about how to foster refugee student resilience and ultimately improve educational outcomes for these students. 


This research is innovative in three main ways:

  1. Theoretically: By drawing on theoretical resources from research on human resilience, inclusive education and critical policy studies to inform understandings of refugee education. 
  2. Methodologically: It will develop positive case studies of local policy enactment, It will focus on the work of schools that demonstrate successful inclusion and outcomes for refugee students (Rutter, 2006), and it will offer new ways to engage students from refugee backgrounds in investigations about their lives at school. 
  3. Strategically: By seeking guidance from our industry partners on how to maximise the study’s impact, the study will develop an understanding of successful approaches to research dissemination and uptake in schools and policy environments. In doing so, the study will offer other schools which accommodate refugee students alternative ways of interpreting and acting to capitalise on their unique strengths.