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Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program

Advice for refugees about the journey to Australia.

​​About the Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program

AUSCO is offered to Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program entrants over the age of five years prior to their departure for Australia. AUSCO gives practical advice about the journey to Australia, including quarantine laws and information about what to expect post-arrival and assists in ensuring a successful start to the clients' settlement journey.

AUSCO is offered in five regions: Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America. Additional courses are provided in other locations as needed.

Courses are delivered over a period of up to five days to adult, youth, children, and pre-literate entrants.

AUSCO links closely with onshore settlement support and orientation delivered under the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP).

The objectives of the AUSCO Program are to:

  • provide accurate information on the departure processes
  • describe the settlement process and provide practical information about post-arrival settlement services and how to access them
  • present a realistic picture of life in Australia
  • encourage English language training on arrival in Australia
  • provide participants with the basic skills necessary to achieve self-sufficiency
  • equip participants with the necessary tools to deal with initial settlement concerns and the different stages of cultural, social and economic adaptation. This includes information about Australian laws and norms.


The curriculum is designed to give participants confidence and independence starting their new lives in Australia, and is an opportunity for them to meet others making the same journey.

Units covered during the course include:

  • Overview of Australia
  • Settlement services
  • Housing
  • Health
  • Money
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Law
  • Travel to Australia

Teaching methodology

AUSCO trainers use a variety of teaching methods throughout the course - including brainstorming, simulations, case studies, discussions, problem solving and role-play activities.

The Department of Social Services also provides classroom and reference materials such as, the AUSCO Student Folder, DVDs, maps, posters and books about Australia.

AUSCO Student Folder

Course content is supplemented by the AUSCO Student Folder which is available in both a 'Standard' and 'Easy Read' version. The Easy Read version of the Student Folder is suitable for clients of lower levels of literacy.

The Student Folder contains the following documents:

  • a preface
  • information pamphlets that focus on key topics of the AUSCO curriculum
  • an activity book containing activities for in-class or at-home completion, and a self-assessed attainment record.

AUSCO participants are encouraged to keep the Student Folder and continue to refer to and use it throughout their settlement process in the HSP.

The Student Folder is available in English and nine key humanitarian cohort languages:

AUSCO video - An Australian Settlement Journey

An Australian Settlement Journey supplements AUSCO course content by providing an overview of life in Australia and an introduction to the services available to refugees in the initial settlement period.

An Australian Settlement Journey is available for online viewing on the Department's YouTube channel in the following languages:

Program delivery

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is currently contracted to deliver the program on behalf of the Department.

IOM is an intergovernmental organisation offering migration management assistance to governments and migrants worldwide. Founded in 1951, IOM currently has 165 member states, maintaining offices in over 100 countries. For more information on IOM, go to International Organization for Migration.

More information

For more information about the AUSCO Program please email: AUSCO@homeaffairs.gov.au