The Refugee Challenge

Engadine High School

Fifty Year 10 students had the opportunity to participate in a simulation program at Menai High School that mirrors the experience of a refugee.


Every year millions of people flee persecution and cross the borders of their own countries to try and find safety.  50% of them are young people.  The Refugee Challenge gives students the opportunity to walk in their steps.  Students struggle through life in a refugee camp with limited food, dirty water and poor sanitation.  They then take a perilous journey on a leaky boat and end up in a detention centre.

Jayden Fraser’s Experience

This was such a good experience for the Year 10 students who are currently studying Human Rights in Geography with a focus on Refugees.

We were completely immersed in the life of a refugee for two hours. My group were given an ID tag and it stated our ethnic origin, which was Rohinga from Myanmar. So we became a Rohinga family for the day. Our day revolved around moving through a number of stations as a refugee family.  Initially we had to cross a border and we were intimidated and threatened by border guards. We lost many of our possessions at this point and had to bribe the guards with our fake money.  One of our family members was detained for a long time. Once across the border we were given minimal resources to build a shelter. Again some of our possessions were stolen at this time including our cooking equipment.

From here we moved to a school, a medical centre, a leaky boat, a food station, an aid station and finally an off shore processing centre. At each station we were told a refugee story and then were forced into a scenario. Some experiences were quite confronting. We were shocked by how little food and the poor quality of water many refugees receive. At one stage we were forced into an extremely cramped, dark, claustrophobic simulated boat experience. This was extremely uncomfortable as audio was played which captured the experience many refugees face on their journey to Australia. In the school we were instructed in Arabic and had to write in Arabic with limited resources. No one understood the language.

This was such a powerful and worthwhile experience and I would recommend future year groups to take this opportunity.

We were fortunate to have Andrew O’Keefe from Weekend Sunrise join one of our families for the program. Our stories will be shared on an upcoming Weekend Sunrise program.