SSI News Blog

Settlement Services International (SSI) is piloting an initiative that aims to inform people seeking asylum about the Australian workplace and prepare them to enter the workforce.

Asylum seekers learn about workplace rights.
Participants learned about their workplace rights.

High profile media investigations last year identified the migrant workforce as a group that is particularly susceptible to workplace exploitation in Australia, often believing they will lose their jobs if they demand their entitlements.

“Feedback we receive suggests people seeking asylum face similar workplace issues, including offers of ‘off the books’ cash-in-hand work; unpaid work trials; receiving goods or services instead of monetary remuneration; and being penalised for issues such as till shortages or diners skipping out on their bill,” SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said.

In a bid to overcome those issues, the SSI employment workshop aims to equip clients with the knowledge and confidence to secure above-board employment.

Last month, seven participants received detailed information about their employment rights; the relevant industrial instruments; and what to do when an employer acts unscrupulously.

The workshop also helped participants to understand the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, which addresses a common issue facing people seeking asylum, Ms Roumeliotis said.

“The feedback we’re receiving is that many employers require these jobseekers to have an ABN before offering them a job,” she said.

The pilot also included a confidence building component to help participants mentally prepare for the jobseeking process.

“Confidence building is sometimes overlooked while preparing to enter the workforce, but self-belief is just as critical as knowing your employment rights. All the practical knowledge in the world is useless if you are not confident enough to apply for work and navigate the interview process,” Ms Roumeliotis added.

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