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.
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