Turning Interest into Action

HOPE has grown out of grass roots community responses to the denial of educational access since 2014. We began with the Maree Program at St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre, the Asylum Seeker Pilot Pathways Project funded by the Victorian State Government, in collaboration with the Youthplus Foundation, and as this drew to a close, we have now developed into the HOPE Co-Op.


Our board is a collaboration between partner-member researchers and educators, and full-member tertiary students. We boast 2 long-standing, a current PhD and Masters candidates, and 6 undergraduate degrees from a range of disciplines. While we are mostly higher education students or graduates, our community includes people who are still unable to access education due to current asylum seeker and refugee policy settings.

Our members come from a range of cultures, including Hazara, Afghani, Tajik, Kurdish, Australian, Persian, Papua New Guinean and Sri Lankan.

Here at HOPE, we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making our community a better place for those who need to belong. Our decision making process is based on experience, research, and connections.

Dealing with the challenges of today requires problem-solvers who bring different perspectives and are willing to engage. HOPE emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Established in 2018, we’re an organisation driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support.

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HOPE Co-Op is a workers co-operative, aiming for sustainability as a social enterprise. HOPE exists to help asylum-seeker background students to be supported, connected, socially and economically included. To do this they need to succeed in their tertiary studies. HOPE is a powerful collaboration of talented people wanting and able to contribute to the broader community and to social cohesion.


Everything we do is to try and support each other, and to promote broader community understanding and cross-culture connectedness.

We partner with the YouthPlus Foundation to provide occasional financial help for full-time student members, employment preparation, and customer service provision within the tertiary education sector.

We work on an ethos of human equality, agency and participation. It exists to support asylum-seeker background students to complete their education and to address the barriers they face to full educational and economic inclusion. It is not primarily based on a charity model, but that of a workers co-operative, whereby members actively contribute and are reimbursed for their work.

It draws on the collective expertise and experience of its membership, to advocate for and directly support the educational journeys of people of asylum-seeker background, and to expand their inclusion, voice and influence within the tertiary education sector.

Our full members have all arrived in Australia as people seeking asylum and are now studying at university or TAFE. The vast majority of us arrived by boat and are still subject to the Australian government’s harsh asylum-seeker policies.

We have experienced mandatory immigration detention, some of us for a prolonged time, both in onshore and offshore detention, and many have still not had our visas processed despite applying for refugee status between 3 -7 years ago. We have no access to any Centrelink support while we study or when we are looking for employment.


We live our resilience together. We have expertise in managing protracted precarity and withstanding the negative discourse of political leaders and media organisations. We have on-the-ground experience of the multiple challenges involved in engaging with university administrative processes in order to succeed in our studies, and the difficulties associated with studying, such as housing, basic living needs and maintaining our mental health individually and together.

The combination of our education levels and our lived experience in Australia and beyond is what gives us real expertise as consultants. HOPE Co-Op is well-placed to help develop community support structures within universities, whereby asylum-seeker background students connect with the broader educational community and help each other and themselves

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