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Peter Rose’s experience volunteering with SSI has shown him many of the challenges that refugees and people seeking asylum face as they try to join the workforce in Australia. 

Mr Rose said that an obvious reason was their lack of English, but there are others that are not as apparent.

Volunteer helps refugees
Peter Rose volunteers to help refugees seeking work.

“Another issue that is often overlooked is the lack of mentoring; just someone who can assist them with basic information about how the Australian job market works,” Mr Rose said, “And this is not something they can learn in one session - it needs to be followed up.” 

To help overcome this challenge, and help refugees and asylum seekers with work rights to breakt into the workforce, the SSI Community Engagement team started job search workshops in April 2015 as a part of the fortnightly Community Kitchen.

The workshops took place at Auburn Centre for Community for job seekers with Peter Rose, a retired businessman, as one of the facilitators. They covered various aspects of the job-hunting process, from resume writing to tips to succeed at a job interview.

In the sessions, participants had access to computers and the help of SSI case managers, who supported them and acted as translators.

Mr Rose said that the participants learned how to use the main job search websites in Australia and one session included the opportunity to take part in a mock job interview.

“The thing they repeat the most is ‘we want to work’,” said Mr Rose. “They are not even that conscious of the money. They just want to contribute and be part of the society. It is very touching.”

The workshops have resumed for 2016 as one-on-one consultations where job-seekers can receive tailored advice depending on their needs, current situation, and employment background.

“Many of them have an arts and crafts professional background, like working with leather or making jewellery, but others have worked in the construction industry,” Mr Rose said. “Some of them will have to do something different to what they used to do back home as the job market is very different here in Australia.”

“I’m doing my bit in helping them to become Australians,” Mr Rose said. “Lately, the terms refugee and asylum seekers have acquired a bad connotation in our society. We should go back to the terminology we used before and just call them ‘New Australians’. Because that’s what they are.”

“It gives me a great satisfaction to be able to do this,” he added.

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