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23 Jun 2023


Iranian refugee works tirelessly to secure his dream job

When Mohsen Shahsavarzdeh finally arrived in Australia after three year’s detention on Christmas Island, his first priority was to get a job – any job.

Mohsen’s story

In November 2017, he registered with SSI for help, as he needed money to support his mother and younger brother.

While highly educated in the medical field, with some experience in the banking sector, Mr Shahsavarzdeh knew he faced challenges due to his lack of English language proficiency, networks and understanding of the Australian jobs sector.

“I knew I had to do anything, and SSI helped me to do some short courses in retail, get a forklift licence and build a resume,” Mr Shahsavarzdeh said.

With the support and encouragement of his Refugee Employment Support Program (RESP) mentor Amal, he took part in several work readiness workshops to learn more about the local job scene, start to build connections and identify mentors. He also enrolled in an English course at TAFE.

While trained in the medical sector, Mr Shahsavarzde’s work in banking while in Iran had sparked an interest in all things finance. He decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Applied Finance – a scholarship opportunity provided through contacts at his local church.

However, it was a job opportunity with the ANZ bank that he credits with kickstarting his new career.

“I was still on a temporary protection visa, and no-one would accept me for a job in finance,” said Mr Shahsavarzdeh.

“Then in my second year of study for my finance degree, SSI called me and said there is an opportunity with the ANZ bank.

“That was the miracle part of my career in Australia. I really appreciate firstly Jesus, then Amal and SSI after that. They provided me with information and training so that I could do the interview.

“There were 25 people [put forward] and I was the only one accepted! That was a very happy day for us, and for my mum.”

He has since decided to strike out on his own and has set up as an independent mortgage broker in the northwestern Sydney area.

“The ANZ job was a big door to help me decide about my career, and without the help of SSI, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said.

Mr Shahsavarzadeh encourages others to seek assistance through the RESP program.

“I can say that with SSI RESP you do not feel you are alone and cannot do much, with them, you can! You can achieve your dreams and work with people that share a similar journey and background.”

SSI’s Refugee Employment Support Program helps unlock employment potential for refugees and asylum seekers, aiming to place them in secure, long-term jobs.

The RESP program involves local employers, organisations and non-government agencies to connect eligible people with training, support and jobs.

The program is flexible and responsive to the individual needs of each participant, taking into account their skills, experience and employment goals.

For more information, visit the SSI RESP webpage.

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