Imagine arriving in Sudan without a single word of Arabic, Swahili or Dinka… and trying to start a new life.

Imagine the stress of making sure your children are safe, happy, comfortable and receiving the best education – and not being able to communicate with the teachers at your local school.

Imagine the overwhelming feelings of isolation.

These are just some of the things Sudanese from refugee and migrant backgrounds face when they first arrive in Australia.

Most Sudanese refugees who settle in Australia come from South Sudan, where less than 30 per cent of children who start grade 1 end up reaching grade 5. With overwhelming dropouts, only two per cent complete primary school.

As a result, adult literacy levels are some of the lowest in the world – according to Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina only 32 per cent of South Sudanese over the age of 15 are literate (and only 12 per cent of women).

This can be a serious challenge for the Sudanese community in Australia, as many families from Sudan are headed by single mums.

What does this mean for Young Sudanese Refugees?

Before arriving in Australia, most young refugees:

  • have only received very limited and interrupted education;
  • have no English language skills;
  • and come with the trauma of their refugee experience.

It’s likely that not only will their mothers and fathers not speak English – but there is little chance their parents will be literate in any language.

Only two per cent of children in South Sudan complete primary school

The Anglican Sudanese Engagement Project

Andrew’s Farm, a suburb in Adelaide’s north, is home to one of the state’s largest Sudanese communities, with many children attending the local school, St Columba College.

Previously, language barriers have meant that the school was unable to contact parents and engage them in their children’s life at school.

Parents were left feeling disconnected, with issues happening at both home and school triggering a challenging environment for the students.

Students at St Columba College junior school

In identifying these issues, the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide and St Columba College reached out to AnglicareSA to drive change.

And for the last four years, AnglicareSA’s Anglican Sudanese Engagement Project has supported parents to build confidence and a stronger connection with their children’s life at the college.

The project, which ran from 2014 to 2018, was joint-funded by the three-way partnership, with Sudanese community leader, David Amol employed to lead the project and develop a school-based service for students and their parents.

David is also leader of a local Anglican Sudanese congregation in Elizabeth and is a well-known personality in the Playford area.

Sudanese community leader, David Amol

 “People who really understand each other, are there for each other as friends, and work together – that is something that you really need.”

David Amol

AnglicareSA Principal Multicultural Services, Mary Awata said the Anglican Sudanese Engagement Project has had substantive contact with 165 Sudanese students and a further 44 students from other parts of Africa.

“Due to language barriers and other issues at home, parents are vulnerable to being disconnected from students and their schooling – in many cases families were uncontactable,” she said.

“David, with his deep understanding of the community, has been a vital bridge between the school, students and parents, which has seen the school culture, environment and student performance significantly improve.”

AnglicareSA has teamed up with the Adelaide Crows to help families at St Columba feel more included in their Australian community

The project has seen St Columba College establish a cultural diversity and inclusion team, which has identified a range of issues including the need to cater more specifically for Sudanese girls and women.

Parents have become involved in school strategies and volunteering, and have been provided spaces for group meetings at the school.

Connecting More and More Families

AnglicareSA has also recently established the Family Connect program to continue its work with St Columba College, with a particular focus on supporting mothers from a refugee background.

Family Connect program worker, Mwajemi Hussein, who herself arrived in Australia 14 years ago with no English, works with mothers facing the same struggles from her lived experience.

“We run workshops, do home visits, help with appointments and link families to schools. The biggest challenge for them is getting familiar with the new system and lifestyle. It can be hard for them to go out and connect, especially when their English is limited.”

Mwajemi Hussein
AnglicareSA Family Connect worker, Mwajemi

The Sudanese Engagement Project has sparked interest from other Adelaide Anglican and Catholic colleges looking to ramp up their engagement with the increasing culturally and linguistically diverse community in Adelaide.

A network of Playford schools led by St Columba College have developed a diversity strategy to progress multiculturalism and inclusion.

On the back of the successful project’s conclusion, David has taken on a new position as Sudanese Family Liaison Officer at the school, where he will continue to guide African students and their families.

AnglicareSA receives a number of referrals from customers who have received an NDIS plan but do not understand what options and services are available for them. 

AnglicareSA’s NDIS Customer Advocate and Support Coordination team are the first point of contact for new customers wanting to access AnglicareSA services. 

Sometimes their support for customers is very short term (weeks) and other times they may support customers for much longer (years) depending on the type of support a customer needs.

“I don’t know what we would have done if you had not come along Irene — thank you.”

Jane, Scott’s Mum

Scott’s Story

“My name is Scott, I am 15 ½ years old I am the only child. I live with my mum Jane, my father left us when I was 3 years old and has not had contact since.

My mum is a full time carer and supports me with all of my needs, including socialisation, communication and self-care. I love listening to music; I have a good sense a humour and love playing jokes on my mum.

In the last couple of years I have suffered severe anxiety and struggled to leave my mums side and get out of the house. I would like to communicate well so that people understand me and learn to socialise with others. One day, I would like to participate out in the community and get a job and help mum.”

A Mother’s Perspective

“Scott received his first plan in February 2018. I contacted many organisations for them to help me understand what supports, services and options were available to Scott but for some reason I became unhappy and lost hope and felt that there were no options out there for my son. 

My son did not receive services from the previous specialist support coordinator and there were no funded services arranged. Three months later, my son and I were at risk of losing our tenancy. A friend referred me to AnglicareSA and helped connect me to the Support Coordination team.

Irene, one of the Specialist Support Coordinators had visited me and Scott at home and instantly explained the plan to me and the support options available to Scott. “

Receiving Specialised Support

In the first two weeks of receiving specialised support from AnglicareSA, Irene, Scott and Jane worked together and we were able to:

  • Continue to sustain Jane’s tenancy by simply organising a house clean and assisting her to understand the paperwork required to complete.
  • Receive in home respite support for Scott.
  • Submit a report to the NDIS which enabled them to complete the NDIS plan review without having the second appointment.
  • Discuss the range of in home therapeutic services available to Scott.
  • Help Jane understand more about the NDIS, which assisted her to commence the first steps in applying for an NDIS package for her own supports.

Do you find yourself pushing through the day without making time to take a break?

How often do you skip meals? Work late? Study all through the night with no sleep?

It’s surprising how many Australians push themselves to the limit, without realising the harm it has on their mental health and wellbeing.

This week is Mental Health Week – and it’s a kind reminder to us all that our mental health is just important as our physical health.

How big is the issue of mental illness in Australia? These five facts help show that it can affect anyone.

1. Mental ill-health is Australians’ most common illness, according to GPs

Australians are seeing their doctor to discuss mental health problems more than any other issue, according to a new 2018 report from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

The survey of more than 1,500 doctors ranked mental disorders as the most common reason for a patient visit (62 per cent).

In 2015-16, there were just under 18 million mental health-related doctor visits – this is over 12 per cent of all GP encounters.

Source: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

2. Almost one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness in a given year

Most recent updates from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimate four million Australians experienced a common mental disorder in 2015.

The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety and substance use disorder.

3. Mental health problems and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability and poor health

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental and substance use disorders cause 23 per cent of all years lost due to disability.

As you can see from the below graph men between the ages of 30-69 are particularity likely to have their life expectancy lowered by substance abuse. The acronym DALY stands for: disability-adjusted life years.

Source: World Health Organisation

In 2013, world-renowned medical journal, The Lancet reported that mental health problems and substance abuse cause the most disability and poor health worldwide. Depression accounted for more than 40 per cent of disability.

4. Almost one in four young people meet the criteria for a probable serious mental illness (PSMI)

The latest Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute report on youth mental health shows the figure has increased from close to 19 per cent in 2012, to almost 23 per cent in 2016.

An even higher number (31 per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents met the criteria for having a PSMI.

Source: Mission Australia

5. Three quarters of all lifetime mental health disorders emerge by age 24

It’s important that we engage in culturally and gender sensitive responses to support mental health of young people.

Our responses should consider structural issues that contribute to higher levels of distress for girls and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

As these five facts highlight, mental illness is one of the most pressing issues in our communities –it must be tackled together as a society to reduce discrimination, stigma and encourage people to seek support.

Mental health is commonly misunderstood as mental ill-health. But rather than illness it’s about wellness – feeling resilient, enjoying life and being able to connect with others.

Mental Health Week

At AnglicareSA, we’re passionate about mental health and wellbeing as a positive concept and increasing people’s ability to realise goals and potential, cope with the normal stresses of everyday life, work productively and contribute to society.

This week marks Mental Health Week with awareness activities being held throughout the week (October 7 to 14).

To find events happening near you during Mental Health Week, visit World Mental Health Day.

If you’re in South Australia you can also visit Mental Health Coalition of South Australia for more information on the week.

While we highlight our mental health this week, it’s important to remember to look after ourselves and those around us throughout the entire year.

For our latest updates on mental health and our other focus areas, follow us on the AnglicareSA Facebook page.

Navigating the NDIS can be an overwhelming experience for many people.

Our experience in supporting people with their pre-planning  has helped us to understand how to be as prepared as you can be for your planning meeting. Here at AnglicareSA we want the best for everyone transitioning into the scheme.

To assist you with the planning journey we’ve put together some ideas to help you get the most out of our planning meeting.

Getting Ready for Your Meeting

  • The NDIS is designed to give people a greater say about where and how they receive support. It’s also focussed on helping people to achieve goals that are important to them or will help to make life easier. Talk through your goals and dreams with family, friends or carers that know you best.
  • Be very clear about your needs and goals. NDIS is here for you so take full advantage of it by being very specific about your goals. Write all of these down and go over them again and again to make sure you include everything that’s important to you.
  • You should also think about where you live and who lives with you; your community and mainstream supports; your disability supports and your daily routines and activities.
  • You can download a “Getting ready for your planning conversation” checklist from the NDIS website to help you with this.

More Helpful Tips

The first planning meeting is a very important one. To make you’re planning meeting go smoothly get all of your paper work together beforehand.

Some examples of documents you may need, include information about your medical, education and health situation.

  • When the day arrives take someone with you to the planning meeting. It is an important meeting and you don’t have to go alone. Take people that know and support you like friends, family, advocates or your support workers. Whoever you choose to take to your planning meeting will help you with explaining your situation.
  • Our NDIS Customer Advocates can help you with pre-Planning and accompany you to the planning meeting. To find out more call our NDIS Customer Advocates on 1800 953 001.


An Action Plan has been collaboratively developed to implement a bold new target for the implementation of the Adelaide Zero Project, aimed at achieving Functional Zero homelessness in Adelaide’s CBD within two years.

More than 30 organisations have committed to the target, developed as part of a rapid design process over the past 90 days.

Yesterday politicians from all political parties signed on to support the target which aims to ensure that the number of people who are homeless in a city on any given night is no greater than the housing placement availability for that night.

AnglicareSA’s CEO, Peter Sandeman  says the 2020 commitment is significant step forward in our city’s quest to end rough sleeping.

“Collective action is the only way to approach Adelaide’s homelessness and housing challenges and it’s heartening to see the number of organisations signing up to the 2020 target,” says Peter.

The Adelaide Zero Project’s Implementation (Action) Plan includes:

    • Hutt Street Centre to run a Connections Week to confirm the names of all the people sleeping rough on any given night in Adelaide’s CBD.
    • Neami National to establish and maintain a ‘by name list’ of every person sleeping rough throughout the year.
    • Don Dunstan Foundation to develop an online Dashboard to track the number of people sleeping rough and those moved to secure housing.
    • Anglicare SA to develop an Aligned Housing Plan to ensure housing is prioritised for people on the ‘by name list’.
    • City of Adelaide to form a Business Alliance to End Homelessness.
    • End Homelessness SA to develop a Charter that can be signed on to by project partners, community organisations, businesses and individuals wanting to demonstrate their commitment to the Adelaide Zero Project.