Australia’s Governor-General Visits Pre-Departure Orientation Session in Lebanon


Beirut – On 24 October, the Australian Cultural Orientation Program (AUSCO) and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, welcomed Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Lady Cosgrove to a pre-departure orientation class in Beirut, Lebanon.

Welcomed by Fawzi Al-Zioud, IOM Lebanon Chief of Mission, the Cosgroves were provided with an insight into training delivered by staff in Lebanon to refugee and humanitarian visa holders, including orientation on Australian culture, laws and values.

AUSCO aims to prepare visa holders for travel, create realistic expectations about life in Australia and enhance settlement prospects.

Jamal Al-Fakhouri, IOM AUSCO regional programme manager, briefed them about the AUSCO programme. Al-Fakhouri stated that from 2014 to 2017, 26,485 beneficiaries travelled to Australia, having completed an AUSCO training, most of them coming from the Middle East. “From January to September 2017, 1,046 beneficiaries have participated in AUSCO in IOM Beirut; 495 males and 551 females,” said Al-Fakhouri.

Al-Fakhouri also shared information about the link between IOM/AUSCO and the training that refugees receive upon arrival in Australia. He explained that there is a constant exchange of information and communication in an annual offshore/on-shore training between AUSCO trainers and the service providers in Australia, which allows better management of the programme. When asked about the AUSCO curriculum, he mentioned that although the curriculum is the same, different methodologies are being used to adapt to the different needs of refugees depending on their region of origin.

The Governor-General also attended an AUSCO training class. “One day, this child might have a chance to become a prime minister in Australia,” he said, referring to an eight-year-old participant.

Funded by the Australian Government's Department of Social Services, AUSCO is delivered by IOM in five regions, including Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.

Of the 8,906 participants in the Middle East, 2,507 have attended training in Lebanon.

For more information please contact Constanze Voelkel-Hutchison in IOM Bangkok, Mobile: +66 62 595 1046 Email: Or Jamal Al-Fakhouri in IOM Amman, Tel: +962 7 7570 0770, Email:

  • Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove (center) together with participants of the Australian Cultural Orientation Program (AUSCO) and UN Migration Agency's (IOM) pre-departure orientation class in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: IOM / Wissam Oueiss 2017

  • Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove (center) speaks to participants of the Australian Cultural Orientation Program (AUSCO) and UN Migration Agency's (IOM) pre-departure orientation class in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: IOM 2017