English is the most widely spoken language in the world. So The Freedom Hub’s Survivor School runs English classes for Survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. These English classes are developed to suit our students’ individual needs. Because we want  our students to interact with others who have similar experiences. They also see things from a different angle. And they get a greater understanding of the Australian culture and national language. Therefore, The Freedom Hub ensures we teach English through a Trauma-Informed lens. Because providing a non-judgemental and compassionate space to learn a second language is empowering. 

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of Freedom”  George Washington Carver.

Education like learning English as a second language, is important. It provides opportunities that one never thought possible. Learning English can help our Survivors secure a job. It helps them find independent accommodation. They can pursue further studies and fulfil their goals. Survivors who choose to enrol in The Freedom Hub Survivor School English classes enjoy trauma informed classes that are delivered in a fun, accepting environment. And the outcomes are very empowering for our students.


One of our values and goals in the school is the English word ‘empowerment.’ A big word for ESL students!

The word ‘Empowerment’ is simple, yet effective and life changing. Empowerment can be described as the process of becoming more confident. Especially in leading life and claiming one’s human rights. The process of becoming stronger is empowering. Also the process of learning a second language is empowering. The process of listening, speaking, reading and writing a second language is empowering. And, the process of establishing rapport and developing good human to human contact is EVEN more empowering. 

So why don’t we just send them to TAFE?

“Empowering a slavery survivor to succeed, takes more than sending them to TAFE or college to learn English. A long term and safe process is required for each individual.”  Sally Irwin – Founder

Our classes are small. As a result, they feel safe, they are listened to and spoken to in a respectful manner. The Survivor School’s English Curriculum is tailored to meet the learning needs and mental health of each individual. So our friendly and creative teachers are there to make the learning experiences of Survivors enjoyable. In addition, all our courses provide a blended learning environment that incorporates:

  • Online educational portals where they can learn at their own pace;
  • One to one tutoring for the areas they get stuck or struggle;
  • Face-to Face experiences for small group interaction and team work.  
  • Peer to peer support and socialisation experiences.

Working with people who have experienced modern slavery needs to be individualised whenever possible.

Why should classes be individualised?

“Survivors have many practical problems that need to be addressed, as well as psychological and physical injuries. You cannot begin to treat a person appropriately if they are desperately concerned about their future, about the past, and about the present.” HELEN BAMBER OBE

Being placed in a room with a large group of people, or trying to be interactive online with strangers, is a very difficult ask for a slavery survivor. Because they have so many challenges to overcome to fit in socially.

Here is a list of challenges that can prevent them from being included by others in our society and prevents them feeling like they belong:

isolation / exclusion / dependency / shame / immobility / little or no schooling / difficulties with decisions and planning ahead / anonymity / absence of rights / misconceptions on codes of living in society / few resources / no accommodation / no job / vulnerability / poor self-worth / reduced confidence / trouble with trust or too much trust / no friends / no family / language issues.

Adding to this, many experience guilt about not being able to make friends, not being included, and shame about having been in slavery.

As a result, we find ourselves working everyday with survivors who usually have a huge lack of self-esteem, poor mental health, depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, we have seen that ‘Cookie cutter’ classes is not what they need. Because trying to keep up with others, in itself can add to their anxiety and fear of failure. To find out more about the difficulties living as a slavery survivor, read our article here.

English Classes Tailored to their Unique Needs

Survivors walk out of our English courses feeling confident and empowered to practice their English. The listening, speaking, reading and writing skills they learn are at their own pace with one on one tutoring. As a result, they feel empowered to have seized the opportunity to connect with others with similar experiences. In addition, they are empowered to live beyond a traumatic past and are ready for the good that is yet to come in their lives. And this is the embodiment of FREEDOM.

Written by: Pareena Khubani (Freedom Hub Intern)

The Freedom Hub Survivor School is the only LONG-TERM, wrap-around care and support for survivors of modern slavery in Australia. We currently support around 70 survivors. However, we would like to be able to support the thousands of survivors in Australia that need us. 

Without our community of businesses and donors, we could not do this, and we want to keep growing so we can help many, many more.

Thank you for your part in this.

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Other blogs you might enjoy:

Three things I learnt about Modern Slavery

Survivor News September 2020 Recap