Refugee Language Program

The Refugee Language Program is a project under the auspices of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Download more information about the Refugee Language Program.


RLP staff, December 2014

RLP staff, December 2014

The Federal Government's Policy of releasing families into community detention has seen an increase in enrolments particularly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Most of these students have been interred on Christmas islands and other detention centres before their release into the community. The RLP is setting up a Mentoring Program for students who cannot come to class, aimed in the first instance at professionals. Trial for this scheme started last year during the summer break and we hope to expand this in 2013.

In 2012 the VC decided that the program should be funded by the Arts Faculty and due to a cut in their budget, the Dean, Duncan Ivison, has sought to fund the program through grants from foundations and private individuals. An RLP volunteer Colin Williamson helped continue funding the program initially. In 2013, the Pratt Foundation promised to fund the program for a 3 year period, a gift which we all value tremendously.

Further reading on this donation:

Media articles on funding for Refugee Language Program

Some Saturdays

Publication of student and teacher writings - Some Saturdays

In December 2008 the Refugee Language Program published an anthology of student and teacher writings. We were able to do this thanks to a grant from the James N Kirby Foundation.

The book is available to purchase from Lesley Carnus or the CPACS office. Price: $20.00

Services offered by the program

The Refugee Language Program at Sydney University provides a diverse range of services to refugees and asylum seekers. These include on-campus classes, home tutoring and a referral service. We currently run 4 classes:

  • an Academic Writing class on Wednesdays
  • an Advanced Communication Skills on Saturdays
  • an Intermediate class, also on Saturdays
  • and a Computer class, also on Saturdays

All classes are free to refugees and asylum seekers

Timetable for classes

Refugee Language Program, Course 1 2015
Program/Teachers Day/Time Location

Intermediate Communcation

Karen and Alice


9.30am-12.30 pm
Starts 28th February

Room 434
Education Building

Manning Road

Advanced Communication



9:30am – 12:30pm
Starts 28th February


Room 435
Education Building

Manning Road

Computer Tutoring

Ray and volunteers

(Individual help)


1:30am – 3:00pm
Starts 28th February

Mac Lab 224, Level 2
Education Building

Manning Road

Creative Writing

Priscilla, Anna and Ray


Writing 4-6pm, Conversation 6-7pm
Starts 4th March

Room 114

Mackie Building

Arundel Street

Important Information

  • All classes are FREE to refugees and asylum seekers
  • Saturday Classes 28th February-18th April. NO CLASS on 4th April.
  • Wednesday Class 4th March -15th April.
  • N.B.Saturday classes are held in the Education Building. The Wednesday Creative Writing class is held in the Mackie Building .
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A note on eligibility
Refugees holding Temporary Protection Visas, those on Bridging E Visas as well as Habeas Corpus asylum seekers are eligible to enrol. In some cases we also accept refugees who have permanent resident status.

If you wish to enroll yourself or a client, please download the enrollment form and email it to the coordinator at

Classes are held in:
Mackie Building K01
University of Sydney, NSW 2006.
The Mackie Building is located in Arundel Street, Glebe, across the footbridge over Parramatta Road from the main campus of the University of Sydney.
Download travel directions to Mackie Building


Education Building A35
University of Sydney, NSW 2006.
The Education Building is located on Manning Road in the main campus of the University of Sydney.
Download travel directions to Education Building

About the program

The class teachers are volunteers and include university staff, students, alumni and local community members. There are also a number of volunteers who work as conversation partners after classes or as individual tutors. If you are interested in becoming involved please download the volunteer form and send to the co-ordinator, Lesley.

Students in the Refugee Language Program come from many countries including the Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Columbia, Peru, Burma, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sri Lanka, China, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indonesia. Many of the students hold Bridging E Visas, the toughest and most excluding visa that the Government offers. This visa does not allow a person access to Medicare, Centre Link allowances or adult education classes.


The RLP was funded annually by the Senate through the Vice-Chancellor's office from 2003 to 2012. The program will now depend on private donations and grants to fund our work with refugees and asylum seekers.

The RLP also uses these funds to cover additional running costs; light lunches for the volunteers and students, fares, excursions, resources and materials and sundry expenses.

In 2012 we would also like to raise enough money to publish another small anthology of students' creative writing.

Donations may be made by cheque or credit card. If you are interested in supporting this program, please download and return this Gift form to:


Official receipts are given for all donations received.


The volunteers who work with the refugees and asylum seekers in our program are very valuable to the Refugee Language Program: we would have no Refugee Language Program without them! They are a group of very busy people who can still find the time and energy to give so much to our students.

Download volunteer application form

RLP volunteers Carmen, Beulah and Karen

RLP volunteers Carmen, Beulah and Karen


The Refugee Language Program issues a newsletter, Refugee Voices, that includes the latest news on the Program's staff, students, projects and events.
Download current edition of Refugee Voices (July 2009)

Articles about the Refugee Language Program also appear in the CPACS newsletter PeaceWrites. To access current and previous issues of PeaceWrites, click here.


Lesley Carnus, Lesley Carnus, has over 25 years experience teaching adult migrants and refugees and has co-ordinated the Refugee Language Program for over 8 years.

Lesley is usually available for enquiries on Mondays and Wednesdays in her office and Saturday in the Education Building and is best reached by email:

T: (02) 9351 6796, or in person
Room 110, Mackie Building K01, University of Sydney.