SSI News Blog

Representatives from business, government and the community sector gathered to discuss the crisis in Syria and Australia’s employment strategy for Syrian refugees at a recent Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) event.

Friendly Nation Initiative chair Tony Shepherd at Syrian refugee forum
Friendly Nation Initiative chair Tony Shepherd addressed the event

CMRC hosted the Syria Settlement Symposium – Support for Syria 2016 at the Parkroyal Parramatta, supported by core partners including SSI, Access Community Services, UNHCR, the Migration of Council, and Community Corporate.

The event aimed to provide the Australian business, government and community sectors with current information on the Syrian crisis in order to inform the development of strategic employment campaigns from local Australian business leaders enrolled in the Friendly Nation Initiative (FNI).

The FNI is a program designed to engage Australian businesses to provide fundraising and employment support to the additional intake of 12,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria. 

The initiative is being driven by Australia’s top business and community leaders, who are calling for Australian businesses, big or small, to join in welcoming Australia’s newest community members.

The Syria Settlement Symposium – Support for Syria 2016 event program included experts from diverse sectors, with keynotes speakers including FNI chair, Tony Shepherd AO, who is the former president of the Business Council of Australia and former chair of the National Commission of Audit.

Mr Shepherd said the FNI gave the business sector an opportunity to show what it could do to help resettle refugees quickly and sustainably.

"This is about getting people settled more quickly and getting people into jobs," he said.

Other keynote speakers included UNHCR Regional Representative Thomas Albrecht, Western Sydney University Chancellor, Professor Peter Shergold AC, and Ian Smith from Bespoke Approach.

An expert panel also gave the audience insight from key settlement service providers, including SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis, Access Community Services CEO Gail Ker OAM, and Priscella Mabor – the Manager of the Youth Transition Support Program at CMRC, who spoke of community settlement-led approaches to employment in refugee communities.

The Syria Settlement Symposium – Support for Syria 2016 provided a platform for all sectors of businesses, local councils and Chambers of Commerce to display a deep commitment to an employment strategy for new community members from Syria.

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