Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena said it’s likely most children have seen news reports on refugees and might struggle to understand why children like them are suffering.
“The world is witnessing a global humanitarian crisis at an unprecedented scale and unfortunately it will get worse, as climate change and conflicts continue to worsen,” Ms Legena said.
“This global refugee crisis is highly politicised and the subject of intense and emotional debates in the news media. It’s highly likely that your children have seen images of refugee families on the move and could struggle with that, particularly when they see other children in distress,” Ms Legena said.
There are currently 68.5 million people around the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, which includes 25.4 million officially recognised refugees.
This Plan International Australia guide has been developed with child protection experts who have extensive experience working with refugee children all around the world.
It is aimed at helping parents to explain to their kids – in simple terms - why people flee their homes, how a person becomes a refugee, what happens to refugees when they arrive in a new country and gives context around why refugees have a right to be treated with dignity.
“We recommend starting a conversation with children in a safe and supportive environment and letting the child guide that discussion by asking as many questions as they want to,” Ms Legena said. “We’ve anticipated questions children might ask and provided facts and advice on framing responses with empathetic language so children can understand that refugees are just like you and I, entitled to the same human rights and respect.
“Importantly, children should understand that no-one leaves their home to seek asylum in another country unless it’s incredibly dangerous and there is no other choice.
“We hope parents find this guide useful and would encourage them to use it as a conversation starter on an important topic that’s likely to continue in the headlines for many years to come. Developing empathy for all of the world’s people is an important lesson for children to learn and one we wholeheartedly encourage.”
Last year Plan International Australia surveyed 1000 Australian families who sponsor a child. They found that the number one reason parents chose to sponsor with organisations like Plan International was to teach their children more about the world.
• Watch and share: The World Explained, By Kids - Aussie kids share what they know about the world.
• Learn more: about Plan International’s work and appeals to support refugee children and their families.