Scarf works predominantly with young people seeking protection and young people from refugee backgrounds who have experienced significant trauma before and/or since arriving in Australia. They may have spent time in refugee camps, offshore detention centres, been separated from friends and family, and experienced war and torture.

Some Scarf trainees are from a migrant background, and their experiences differ from those seeking asylum. However, they have still faced barriers not experienced by young people born in Australia, which will have negatively impacted their wellbeing.

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Scarf therefore has a huge responsibility to ensure that the wellbeing of all participants is central to everything we do.

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We provide a culturally appropriate, welcoming service that prioritises trainees’ physical, mental and social wellbeing. At the outset of the 10-week Scarf program, each trainee undergoes an individual psychosocial assessment to ensure we're aware of their background and needs, and are able to support them through every step of their Scarf experience.

Trainees are allocated a Wellbeing Worker from Scarf, who contacts them weekly (outside of training and work sessions), to “check in” and address any emerging issues as quickly as possible. This is a time to identify potential challenges with program materials so that any gaps in knowledge and understanding can be filled.

Scarf’s volunteer mentors are thoughtfully recruited and inducted with trauma-informed training to enable them to work effectively and knowledgeably with trainees. If mentors have any concerns about the health, wellbeing or safety of the trainees, they report these to Scarf staff immediately.

Even after trainees have graduated from the 10-week Scarf Program, we endeavour to ensure their ongoing wellbeing, by referring into appropriate services who can provide additional support where necessary. We also run an online platform – a private Scarf Trainees and Mentors Facebook Group - where graduates can access regularly updated information about job opportunities and support services and stay in contact with one another and the Scarf team.

We also run semi-regular social events, like the Scarf “Welcome in the New Year” party, and we provide complimentary seats for graduates and mentors at Scarf Dinners to foster ongoing connection (in a delicious setting!) beyond graduation. 

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Cover and inset photo: Autumn Scarf '18 at Stomping Ground Beer Hall. Photographer: Gareth Sobey