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The refugee experience – questions and activities

Michele Frankeni  |  11 June 2020

Read Giving voice to the refugee experience on the Australian Catholics’ Faith education website and take part in the following questions and activities.


  • What is the JRS Australias Refugee Voices program?
  • Why is such a program important/necessary?
  • Who’s voices do you think we need to hear that we haven’t been?
  • What did Sajeeda come to value in Australia that she said was not valued in Myanmar (Burma)?
  • Do you agree with her? Why/why not?



  1. Why do people seek asylum? Compile a list of some of the reasons people might seek asylum in another country. Research a country that has had many of its citizens look for asylum elsewhere. What is the country’s history? Ethnic make-up? Is it involved in a war or insurrection? Write a report on the conditions in that country, and outline why people have sought asylum elsewhere.

  2. Sajeeda said her husband was not eligible for any government grants because of the type of visa they’re on. There has been criticism of the jobkeeper/jobseeker payments not going to certain groups, including overseas students. Research who is and isn’t eligible for government support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Discuss whether this is fair or not.

  3. Consider the wisdom that refugees bring to our community.You might like to read this reflection with some insights from a refugee about our current COVID-19 shutdowns. How else might the experiences and insights of refugees be helpful to us in addressing issues in Australia today? Write down a list of topics and issues you might want to ask a refugee about if you were given the chance to interview them, with a brief description of why you would choose to ask them about each of those topics.

Imagine: Think about a refugee’s story and put yourself in their story. What is it like living in a refugee camp? Awaiting a temporary visa? Coming to a new country where you may not know the language or customs? What is your first day of school like?

Take action: How can you help refugee families? JRS Australia will have ways in which you can help, but are there other organisations in your school, parish, community that assist refugees?

Read: While written about another important issue – racism – Fr Frank Brennan SJ in his recent Trinity Sunday sermon spoke about the power and obligation to raise our voices.

Bible reflection: See this week’s Bible reflection on the importance of your words.


Read or summarise Giving voice to the refugee experience on the Australian Catholics’ Faith education website and discuss with the students ways in which they make people welcome. How do they welcome new students to their class, family or community? What actions show that welcome? What words do they use?

ACTIVITY: Words that heal

The objective is to help the students grow more conscious of ways to use the gift of speech to bless and to heal.

  • Divide the young people into groups of three or four.
  • Give the groups five minutes to make a list of words that can bless and heal. (I'm sorry; Can I help you?)
  • Invite the young people to share their ideas. Write them on the board.
  • Invite the young people to think of ways that they can more consciously use these words to bless and to heal others.


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