Pre-Departure Orientation

Pre-departure Orientation assists migrants with the information and skills necessary to adapt to a new society and culture.

Based in Nairobi, the Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) and the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) Programmes seek to provide information and training to refugees in order to facilitate their transition to the new country of resettlement.   The COA Kenya team delivers orientation sessions in all of the Eastern African region, including Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, as well as in Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. COA Kenya oversees three parallel initiatives:  1) a combined group orientation session for adult and youth refugees; 2) a group orientation session for refugee youth only, and 3) pre-arrival services for youth refugees (through a special partnership between YMCAs in Canada and youth refugees abroad). Youth refugees avail, via social media, of pre-arrival services offered by youth counsellors in Canada.  They are also given access to a multitude of linkages with YMCAs in their province of destination.

The AUSCO Programme provides training in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Uniquely tailored by the governments of each receiving country, each programme builds awareness of cultural differences and society, informs about services available to refugees at the receiving end and helps develop the skills, attitudes and understanding needed to facilitate adaptation in a new country. 

In this region, both AUSCO and COA programmes primarily target refugees.  

Canadian Orientation Abroad

The Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) Programme is funded by the Government of Canada, through its department for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  IOM has been implementing pre-departure orientation projects on behalf of the Government of Canada for over 20 years, and in Kenya, since 1998.  In 2015 alone, COA trained 14,981 participants and sessions were conducted in 42 different countries, inclusive of its 20 permanent COA sites.  IOM Kenya is one of seven permanent COA sites in Africa (other permanent sites include Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria (immigrants only), South Africa and Sudan). COA sessions consist in the delivery of 15 to 25-hour orientations, depending on whether the refugees are living in urban centres or in refugee camps.

COA sessions address:

  • Refugees’ expectations, needs, and concerns about their upcoming resettlement;
  • Preparation for their travel to Canada;
  • A comprehensive review of the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) for Government-assisted refugees, along with the presentation of post-arrival services for other refugee categories, such as Privately-sponsored refugees, Visa Office-referred refugees and Blended refugees;
  • An overview of Canada, including its geography, climate, government levels, rights and freedoms, responsibilities and obligations, and multiculturalism;
  • An overview of government services, including health care, education, employment, recognition of overseas qualifications and experience and general working conditions across Canada;
  • Money management (living on a small budget), housing, and transportation;
  • Canadian laws, values and citizenship;
  • Cultural adaptation (culture shock and respect for diversity);
  • Knowledge and skills to adapt to the Canadian society.

Australian Cultural Orientation

The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) programme is provided to refugees and humanitarian visa holders who are preparing to settle in Australia. Conducted globally, with representation on each continent, the IOM Kenya office is the reporting hub for Africa and operationally covers sub-Saharan Africa.

AUSCO is led by trainers with a diversity of backgrounds and languages, who have expertise in adult, youth and children training methodologies, and with language and cultural integration training.

The programme provides orientation to life in Australia for the first six months and is provided to all refugees and humanitarian visa holders over the age of five. The course is delivered over five days and covers mainly the more salient topics of settling in a new country, including:

  • Travel to Australia;
  • Settling in, and on-arrival assistance;
  • An overview of Australia, including government, geography, climate, and cultural adjustment;
  • Health care, including Medicare, hospitals, immunization, and preventative health education;
  • An introduction into the education system;
  • Employment, recognition of overseas qualifications and experience, and general working conditions;
  • Money management, including banking institutions, budgeting, taxation, and credit;
  • Housing, including renting and household management;
  • Public transportation and driver’s licensing;
  • Australian laws, values, and citizenship;
  • How to access counselling services for torture and trauma survivors.


Achievements and Successes

    In Figures
    • Canadian Orientation Abroad

    2015: 14,981 participants trained in 42 countries.

    • Australian Cultural Orientation

    2015: 1,397 participants trained in Sub-Sahara Africa Region.


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