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30 Jun 2016


Former refugee’s innovative start-up helps others find employment

Nirary Dacho and Anna Robson co-founded Refugee Intern.

Refugee Intern is the brainchild of Nirary Dacho, a Syrian IT analyst who arrived as a refugee in mid-2015, and Anna Robson, who learned first-hand about the hardships facing refugees and asylum seekers while working at the Nauru Detention Centre from 2014-15.

Designed to connect refugees with work opportunities that align with their skills and experience, Refugee Intern aims to provide new arrivals with local work experience which is often one of the greatest challenges for newly arrived refugees.

The project has been supported from its inception by Ignite Small Business Start-ups, a Settlement Services International (SSI) initiative that facilitates business creation for people from refugee backgrounds who are keen to establish a small business.

“Working in Nauru, I found out how lots of talented people who arrive in Australia as refugees don’t get to use their skills just because they can’t find a job due to their lack of local experience and contacts,” said Ms Robson.

“I wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know how.”

Ms Robson was among dozens of technology experts and entrepreneurs who attended the inaugural TechFugees Australia Hackathon in November 2015 to develop innovative solutions to support refugees in the early stages of settlement.

A number of newly arrived refugees also took part to share their experiences and guide the development of technology solutions, including Mr Dacho who has a master’s degree in web science, a bachelor’s degree in IT, and over eight years’ experience in the IT sector.

“When I heard Anna talking about the need to find a way to make the most out of the skills brought to Australia, I knew I wanted to work with her to find a solution because it was exactly how I felt,” Mr Dacho said.

Together, they created Refugee Intern with the support of the Ignite team, who helped with the initial business plan, budgets and marketing plan.

“Refugee Intern is a platform that connects businesses and job seekers from refugee backgrounds who have specialist skills. The company enters the requirements of the candidate they are looking for, and the program matches them with job seekers who meet those criteria,” Ms. Robson explained.

“We are certain there are many job seekers from refugee backgrounds that, just like Nirary, have the skills and the experience, but are not given an opportunity because they lack experience in the Australian workforce, references who can support their applications, and contacts to find out about job opportunities. “

Within less than 12 months, Refugee Intern has attracted over 50 candidates and 10 businesses in the areas of IT, Accounting and Marketing. A number of candidates have already begun working in a bid to enhance their resume and improve their prospects of finding permanent work in Australia.

Refugee Intern is currently expanding interstate, and Ms. Robson hopes to attract at least 500 candidates by 2017.

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