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Micare’s mark of the year

Migrant and refugee primary school students in Melbourne’s west are kicking goals thanks to the Victorian Government’s Strategic Partnership Program.

Girls participating in the  Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program Gala Match Day

School students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are building their confidence, English language skills and peer networks, thanks to Micare and the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation’s Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program.

Funded through the Victorian Government’s Strategic Partnership Program, the Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program aims to provide newly arrived refugee and migrant school students with the opportunity to build positive relationships and connections with each other by learning how to play Australian sports such as Australian Rules Football and netball.   

What is the Strategic Partnership Program?

The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Strategic Partnership Program has provided 11 organisations with up to $230,000 in funding over 4 years, to develop partnerships with other organisations and local councils, to deliver community-designed projects.

Working collaboratively with communities, the Strategic Partnerships formed through the Program design innovative solutions that address priority issues facing local multicultural communities and newly arrived migrants and refugees.

Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program

Through its partnership with MiCare in delivering the Strategic Partnerships Program, the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation established The Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program, following a series of consultation sessions with young people at Western English Language Schools.

Micare’s Youth and Communities Program Co-ordinator, James Wight said, “At the end of last year, the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation came to us with a proposal to run a mainstream sports program for students at Melbourne’s Western English Language Schools.”

“The Foundation had held a series of consultation sessions with students in 2018 which had identified a strong demand from students to be able to access sport and health programs outside of school and opportunities to engage with students from neighbouring schools.”  

Girls holding Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program Gala Match Day trophy

Benefits so far

Since the Program commenced at the beginning of 2019, over 450 students have participated.

Mr Wight said the Program has strengthened multicultural communities in Melbourne’s West.

“It’s been a fantastic initiative. We’ve seen the establishment of networks, on and off the field, between students, their families and organisations in the area.”

“Students’ health and wellbeing have improved and, through learning the principles that underpin team sports, we’ve seen them build trust, cooperation and respect for one another. This leads to a greater understanding of each other and their different cultural backgrounds.”

After the program, Mr Wright said students are more self-confident, with many seeking information on where and how to access other sporting opportunities within the community.

At the end of the six-week Program, students attend and play in a Gala Match day. This final hurrah is a chance for students participating from Western English Language Schools to represent their school, showcase their new skills, socialise with each other and build ongoing friendships and connections.

“The Gala Match day is an exciting close to the program for the students. It’s filled with a lot of enthusiasm and positivity.”

Micare would like to thank the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation, Western Bulldogs Football Club, Netball Victoria and the Western English Language Schools in Laverton, Footscray, Braybrook and St Albans who have been integral in the development and implementation of the Introduction to Mainstream Sports Program.

“Without our partner organisations, this program couldn’t have been delivered and would not have been the success that it is.”