Project/Icons / advocateProject/Icons / appealsProject/Icons / blog postProject/Icons / documentsProject/Icons / educateProject/Icons / healthProject/Icons / media releaseIcons/moneyIcons/moneyx2Project/Icons / petitionIcons/Ionic/Social/social-pinterestProject/Icons / protectProject/Icons / quoteProject/Icons / supportProject/Icons / volunteerProject/Icons / water

It takes a village to create a community

28 February 2024, Impact of Our Work

The impact of support networks for migrant and refugee families 

Outside the Multicultural Hub on the outskirts of Hobart, a 54 reasons van pulls up. The back is filled to the brim with children’s toys and play equipment. Out of the front jumps Terri, who gets right to work. Over the next half an hour Terri and her team unload the van and convert the hall inside into a children’s wonderland. 

Play mats are laid out, equipment is assembled, colourful banners are draped from the walls and a dance floor is prepared. The team operate like a well-oiled machine, a product of necessity. They have no permanent location for their work and so must set up and pack up each week with maximum efficiency. This ensures the families get the most out of the brief window of time to meet. As the families begin to arrive the team are immediately rewarded for their hard work by the screams of delight from the children.

Creating community

It Takes a Village is a program designed to create a sense of community for migrant and refugee children and families as they adapt to life in Australia. Bringing newly arrived families together for fun, safe and culturally appropriate activities can improve mental health and wellbeing while helping families to support their children with the transition into school. The program also supports caregivers to build social networks with families who share similar life experiences. 

When you talk to the children, caregivers or staff involved in the It Takes a Village program you immediately understand that it is special. For the families it’s a source of joy and support they plan their week around. The staff understand its importance and will do anything in their power to help the program and the families involved. 

“It Takes a Village is really special because families and children have arrived new to Tasmania … they often don't have big spaces to play or even have any toys or anything in their homes. So coming to It Takes a Village gives them a space where they can have access to all those early childhood resources,”  says Terri. 

For Maluka and Fafi, It Takes a Village has been a source of support while they adjust to life in Tasmania.

“They also have a space where the families, the mums or the dads can interact with other adults and link in with their community, find friendships and find people that they can continue being lifelong friends with.”

A reason to sing and dance

The sense of community is instantly recognisable when Fafi* and her son Maluka* arrive. They both run to give Terri a hug, then Maluka* takes some fruit offered by the staff and joins his friends who are letting loose on the dance floor. Fafi, the daughter of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, moved to Australia recently to be with her husband. 

“When I first come, I cannot open the door … I’m scared,”  she says. Fafi suffered from a sense of isolation exacerbated by a language barrier and a lack of friends or wider family to turn to. “When you come to new country, you didn’t know anything … it’s not comfort, it’s a very hard life.” 

It Takes a Village is not just early learning support and play for children,
but a way for caregivers newly arrived to Australia to make friends and build their network of support. 

Since bravely putting herself into a new environment and joining the It Takes a Village program with her son, they have both gained friends, a support network and the confidence to learn and meet new people. 

“My son … he’s very happy now. He talk before that he shy … but now he very happy to talk. He give the people high fives, he start to talk English with the kids,”  says Fafi. 

Maluka, 5, gets excited to come every week to play, sing and dance. His favourite song to sing is Baby Shark. When asked why he comes to the program each week, he does not hold back, “because I love it!”

Maluka, who has been able to make friends and improve his English through the program,
gets most excited for the chance to sing and dance every week. 

He then explains that when he grows up, he wants to be a policeman. He loves to give policemen high fives in the street, and they will often give him stickers in return. Fafi beams at Maluka with pride as he demonstrates the progress he has made in his English and communication skills.

“It’s very good for a new life for the people to come in here,”  says Fafi, “he likes coming here … It’s good, the safety for kids, for family, it’s beautiful.”

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Photos: Ashton & Peek / Save the Children.

Stay up to date on how Save the Children is creating a world where every child has a safe and happy childhood