Jesuit Social Services established Homework Club in 2004, to provide out of school hours learning support to school aged students from refugee and migrant backgrounds living on the Flemington public housing estate.

Like many of our programs, Homework Club relies on the generosity of our volunteers who give their time to support the program. Leanne Acreman, Jesuit Social Services’ General Manager of Housing and Complex Needs, says this support is crucial to its success.

We couldn’t operate the Homework Club without volunteers. They’re integral to its operation. We only have one coordinator and we have about 20 volunteers, so it actually wouldn’t be able to happen without them. They are irreplaceable. We just wouldn’t be able to manage without them.

Leanne Acreman

General Manager, Housing and Complex Needs

Students who access Homework Club often face a range of barriers, including a disrupted or dislocated education, low language and literacy, a lack of educational resources at home and parents who don’t possess the language or literacy proficiency to support their children with their homework. Students receive one-on-one support from the volunteer tutors to help overcome these barriers, supporting them to develop the literacy and numeracy skills to help them succeed in their education.

Ian has volunteered with Homework Club for over 14 years. As a school teacher, he understands that the pressures on classroom teachers can also impact learning. “Teachers often don’t have time to spend one-on-one with students, so if they’ve got things that they need clarified, they can get a bit more in depth assistance at Homework Club. I like being able to work with the kids on a more individual basis. You can make a lot more progress.”

Photograph of Homework Club volunteer Ian. He has close cropped grey hair and is wearing a floral shirt.

Ian has volunteered with Homework Club for 14 years

A love of learning and an experience of growing up on a housing estate prompted Truc to volunteer. “I actually lived in the high-rise 20 years ago. So now I’m studying a Bachelor of Arts, I thought it’s a good way to give back everything that I’ve learned. I’m just a huge nerd – I love learning and I love teaching. The kids are really cool too, so that helps.”

A recent retiree, Bill finds the difference he can make through volunteering to be very rewarding. “The children are delightful, I look forward to coming along. One boy I work with has particularly improved his reading. I had him read a book for a class, maybe six months ago, and he was struggling, and then again about a month ago, and the difference was quite striking. That’s nice to see. Because if you start to fall behind in education, catching up is hard to manage.”

Leanne sees this richness of relationship as a key reason why volunteers continue to support the Homework Club. “I think it’s that sense of contributing back to the community. It’s the really enjoyable aspect that comes of working with kids – they can challenge you and make you think differently, make you laugh and also can really tear at your heartstrings. So I think for the volunteers it delivers them back something but it really offers something to the community in terms of understanding and appreciating each other’s cultures and values.”