From a year ago to now, 2016 was a year of growth

A year ago RMCC was continuing to provide vital educational and social support to refugee and migrant children in Footscray. Now we have expanded further and as 2016 draws to a close, we think it is important to look back on the year RMCC has had.

A little over a year ago our Learning Support Program operated out of a school library. Now we are Victoria’s first Refugee and Migrant Children Centre. The launch of our Centre in March 2016 means we now independently run our programs with the support of six local partnering schools and organisations. As a result we are able to reach a wider range of 5-14 year old children from a range of different needs and backgrounds. Our learning support program has continued to focus on addressing educational needs such as reading, comprehension and numeracy skills as well as promoting social inclusion, confidence building and group bonding through high quality mentoring.

A year ago we had never run a workshop. Now we run monthly life skill workshops that are focussed on fun after school activities and life skill development. From Hip Hop dancing to Arts and Crafts and Basketball to a mini Olympics, our eight workshops have proven to be a huge success with the children building their knowledge and experiences through various activities that they enjoy.

A year ago we were thinking about how to be sustainable and have a long-term impact. Now we are planning to open a social enterprise café in early 2017. The Common Social Café will provide financial support for our current educational programs as well as helping tackle barriers to employment. This will be achieved by providing hands-on hospitality training, work experience, guidance and employment to over fifty refugee, asylum seeker and migrant youth each year. It will act as a transitional program and employment pathway for youth in Footscray as well as being a community hub.

Setting up the Common Social requires start-up funding of $25,000, and in June we launched our fundraising campaign. We have currently raised $18,857 meaning we are over three-quarters of the way towards our fundraising target! We would like to thank everyone who has donated thus far; your kindness is hugely appreciated by the team at RMCC. To make the Common Social Café a reality, we still need you to back the campaign though. Please help spread the word with your friends and family, and if you would like to make a donation please visit the campaign at .

A year ago we had never run a program outside of school terms. Now we have successfully completed our first ever school holiday program. The action packed five day program ran over two weeks in September and was an extension to our monthly workshops. The first week focussed on Science activities with the children conducting experiments and visiting the Science Works Museum. In contrast, the second week’s theme was nature, with activities including a visit to the zoo, gardening and learning about animals.

A year ago we distributed 45 educational material aid packs. Now we have successfully provided over 100 children with educational material aid. These packs are available to families encountering financial hardship with materials such as schoolbags, pencil cases, stationary and schoolbooks being distributed. Such materials ensure each child has the resources they need to help them learn and grow at school.

Ultimately, a lot has changed for RMCC in 2016. We would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support, with a special shout going to Commonwealth Bank, Seddon Community Bank, Harold Mitchell Foundation and the Jack Brockhoff Foundation. The important work we do would have been impossible without our amazing team of dedicated mentors and administrative team who volunteered for over 9,000 hours this year. 2017 promises to be yet another exciting year of growth for us, with the opening of the Common Social café and the introduction of our new Family Learning Engagement Program. But at present, it is important to take a step back and appreciate what we have achieved as an organisation from a year ago to now.