The Australian Cultural Orientation Programme (AUSCO) prepares refugees and other humanitarian entrants (people who suffer substantial discrimination amounting to gross violation of their human rights in their home country and therefore are living outside of it) for initial settlement in Australia. It is a five-day programme of orientation focusing on travel, on-arrival assistance, practical information on post-arrival settlement services and managing cultural, social and economic expectations.

    The cultural orientation programme includes:

    • Sessions on travel requirements, including Customs and Immigration processes
    • What to expect on-arrival to Australia by way of initial assistance
    • Introduction to the Australian lifestyle, social and cultural norms
    • Life skills training (dealing with accommodation, transport, banks, health and other day-to-day matters)
    • Understanding Australian values around law and order, gender equality, rights and responsibilities
    • Freedoms protected by law (religion, expression, assembly, non-discrimination).


    • Five-day training focusing on travel, on-arrival assistance, and managing expectations


    Cultural Orientation assists in preparing refugees and other humanitarian entrants for life in the country of resettlement by:

    • allaying any fears they may have about the country they are going to through correct information
    • giving them greater confidence through the basic skills they acquire to deal with the initial stages of their settlement in the new country
    • facilitating their integration through enhanced understanding of the new environment and how to deal with it..
    Project Description

    The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program is a five-day orientation initiative funded by the Australian Department of Social Services (DSS) and delivered under contract by IOM to 17 Missions worldwide in five regions, namely: Africa, South Asia, South America, South East Asia and the Middle-East – where Australia-bound refugees and humanitarian entrants are located.   

    The programme prepares refugees and humanitarian entrants for life in Australia. It is delivered in a variety of settings around the world including refugee camps and urban centers by fully trained personnel with a sound understanding of Australia.

    Sessions are delivered in the language of the refugees or through a qualified interpreter. They are interactive and dynamic and a variety of teaching resources including audio-visuals are used. Teaching methodologies are learner-centered and vary according to the profile of groups being trained.

    AUSCO has a curriculum covering relevant integration topics and classes are held for adults, pre-literates, youth and children.

    It began as a pilot project in 2003 and since its inception more than 85,000 clients have been assisted by AUSCO.

    In partnership with DSS, IOM continues to be involved in improvements to teaching materials and the continuous training of trainers, including an annual Train-the-Trainer workshop, conferences with Settlement Service Providers in Australia and an Exchange Program between AUSCO trainers and Australian settlement case workers. 

    • Refugees
    • Humanitarian entrants