Australia’s Cultural Orientation Program for Humanitarian Entrants - Evaluation of AUSCO 2009

“AUSCO is a bridge and helping hand for humanitarian entrants to guide them through their transitions smoothly……it is a good seed for them to grow in Australia.”
IOM Trainer, response to AUSCO evaluation questionnaire

Australia has a long history in the resettlement of refugees and humanitarian entrants. The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) program is a five day cultural orientation course available to all refugee and special humanitarian entrants who are over five years of age. AUSCO is delivered prior to their departure to Australia and marks the beginning of the settlement process.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was awarded a three year contract in September 2006 to deliver AUSCO courses. The contract has been extended for one year by way of a deed of variation to 31 August 2010. The estimated cost of the four year contract is anticipated to be A$7.5 million. Provision for a formal evaluation of the program during the life of the current contract was made in the AUSCO program budget and was expected to occur in the third year of the contract. A global tender process for the delivery of the AUSCO program for a further three years is expected to commence in late 2009.

The evaluation thus has a two-fold purpose: to review AUSCO at the program level and to inform the forward contract. The evaluation is not intended to review the performance of the current service provider as this is done on an ongoing basis through formal contract management procedures.

Terms of reference
The Terms of Reference for the 2009 AUSCO evaluation were to:
1. Review the outcomes/results of the program from inception to date and assess whether the program is delivering its intended objectives;
2. Analyse the performance of the program in relation to meeting contractual Key Performance Indicators, global expansion and uptake by humanitarian clients and to determine if any contractual changes are required;
3. Obtain and analyse comprehensive client and key stakeholder feedback on perceptions of curriculum content and program delivery methods with a view to informing any required changes to the program content or delivery;
4. Review the current quality assurance mechanisms in terms of content delivery and recommend any further measures to be employed;
5. Identify any linkages and gaps in the provision of offshore and onshore cultural orientation and provide any necessary recommendations for greater coordination and improvement of both services.