Unaccompanied minors are young people from humanitarian refugee backgrounds under the age of 18 who arrive in Australia without parental support. Many arrive with family members or have family already living here.
These young people have been granted permanent residency on humanitarian grounds and live with their nominated carer or their proposer when they first arrive.
Until the age of 18 or until circumstances change, such as being reunited with their parents or taking out Australian citizenship, these young people are eligible for support services under the Commonwealth/State Unaccompanied Humanitarian Refugee Minors Cost–Sharing Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Communities and the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Mercy Community Services (MCS) Family Services has been contracted to deliver support services on behalf of the Department of Communities since 1985.
Since then, our Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors Program (UHMP) has worked with young people and children from countries within Africa, South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Central America.
We help these young people and their carers to achieve physical, emotional and social wellbeing while maintaining positive connections with their culture and community.
Some of the carers are themselves young and relatively new to Australia, with little financial or social support.
Young people in UHMP have often experienced significant trauma in their birth country or before coming to Australia and may face complex health problems and language and cultural barriers.
We offer support to young people and their carers as they settle into Australian society. This may include assistance with information about education, transport, health services, Centrelink, recreational activities, career planning, language, family issues, legal needs, child protection concerns and accommodation.
We work closely with community organisations and government departments such as settlement agencies, schools, counselling organisations, housing services, Centrelink and the Department of Communities Child Safety Services.
We build positive relationships with the cultural community of the young person and their family in order to enhance their support networks.
Contact us to find out more about how we support unaccompanied humanitarian refugee minors.