On 15 October 2014, the Australian Intercultural Society hosted a luncheon, "Employment amongst people from refugee backgrounds", for approximately 80 guests representing 60 different organisations. Bringing together a wide range of Melburnians to discuss such an important topic was the primary motivation for organising this event.
The keynote speaker was Adam Bandt, Australian Greens Deputy Leader and MP for Melbourne. The event was facilitated by Ramesh Kumar, General Manager of Settlement and Asylum Seeker Programs at AMES. Welcoming remarks were given by Justice Shane Marshall, a judge of the Federal Court of Australia.
A common theme that emerged was integration of services and the idea that refugees are everyone's responsibility. "Whether you like it or not, refugees are a part of the community," Kumar said.
Unfortunately, unemployment and also underemployment are realities for many refugees, even for those with tertiary qualifications.
Drawing on current research, Bandt identified 4 reasons that people from refugee backgrounds might struggle to find suitable employment: a lack of Australian work experience and references, language difficulties, a lack of local contacts and networks, and the inability to have overseas qualifications recognised in Australia.
To address these issues, Bandt called for additional research, funding and the establishment of national and state policies and strategies, as well as community-led approaches that tailor solutions for individuals.
Following a Q&A session, the event concluded with brief remarks from AIS Executive Director Ahmet Polat.
We thank our sponsor, i4 Flooring, for their generous support for this event.
AIS Executive Director Ahmet Polat described causes of and responses to radicalisation for an article in The Age on Saturday, 27 September 2014. The article, titled 'Melbourne police stabbing: Radicalisation must be fought with inclusivity', was written by political editor Michael Gordon.
The full article is available here.