In late December, the Flemington Homework Club wrapped up another successful year with a celebration for students, families, volunteers and donors at the Venny, a community hub in Kensington that provides a supervised ‘backyard’ space for local children.  

Jesuit Social Services established the Homework Club in 2004 as part of our Settlement Program, to provide out of school hours learning support to school aged students from refugee and migrant backgrounds who are living on the Flemington public housing estate. It operates two nights a week during school term and engages volunteers to support participants and their families to overcome barriers to educational achievement.  

Settlement Program Coordinator Kim Malone says that events like this one provide alternative learning opportunities and contribute to the broader wellbeing of participants.

Homework Club participants at the end-of-year celebration.

“In addition to our regular offering, we aim to provide an activity every school holidays. This year, we collaborated with other Jesuit Social Services’ programs – The Outdoor Experience and the Centre for Just Places – to design activities that encourage participants to engage with nature while learning about their local area.

A highlight was connecting the Homework Club community with a Wurundjeri elder, who performed a Welcome to Country at an outdoor activity focused on Indigenous culture and history. This was an opportunity for some of our newest arrivals to listen to, and learn from, the wisdom of First Nations people.” 

Kim says that access to outdoor spaces like the Venny, a free communal backyard and safe space for children aged 5 to 16, has been all the more important since the pandemic, when young people completed extended periods of remote learning and reported being tired of deskbased learning.

“We consulted with the young people and they attributed good mental health to sport, being with friends and family, and developing self-esteem through learning. We’ve incorporated this into program delivery.” 

Homework Club community members at the end-of-year celebration.

In between bike riding, trampolining and a very popular sausage sizzle at the Venny, students shared what the Homework Club and its activities meant to them.

Grade Two student Siman says the help from the team was his highlight. “They’re very nice. Especially the helpers and staff members. They help you turn smart.”

Grade Six student Guuleed told us “Homework Club is fun, it’s cool, it’s nice. People help you like if you’re struggling with some work, they will help you and they’re kind and lovely and they’re nice. They help us a lot, and we really enjoy it.” 

Homework Club is fun, it's cool, it's nice. People help you like if you're struggling with some work, they will help you and they're kind and lovely. They help us a lot, and we really enjoy it.


Homework Club student

While Homework Club has clear benefits for the students, it is also a weekly highlight for the dedicated team of volunteers, who range from people at the beginning of their careers gaining exposure to teaching and learning to communicate with young people, to those at the end of their working lives looking to give back to the community. 

Miriam is volunteering while finishing her teaching degree and says, “the kids are all really curious to learn, so when you’ve got something to offer them, they’re ready to take it all in, which I think is really good for their development and education. It’s a wholesome way to spend your time, getting out in the community, meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Daria recently retired and volunteers because “I wanted to do something for the community. I love the children…you can pick up on things they don’t understand and make them simpler. It’s a beautiful experience.”