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01 Nov 2013


Overcoming employment barriers for refugees

Through this new SSI community-based initiative, clients will be supported by a Resource Board comprising stakeholders from the community, local business owners, members of councils and chambers of commerce. Members of the Resource Board volunteer their expertise, business knowledge and skills to the fledgling entrepreneurs with the aim of broadening their knowledge about local laws and networks.

Many recently arrived refugees face significant barriers to employment in Australia, in particular during the early stages of their settlement. Research shows that humanitarian entrants are the most disadvantaged cohort of immigrant arrivals and face the greatest settlement difficulties in Australia, particularly in the labour market.

In fact, even after three years in Australia, one third of refugee-humanitarian entrants will remain unemployed. Studies have also found that refugees display strong entrepreneurial qualities compared with other migrant groups, with a higher than average proportion engaging in small and medium business.

The Refugee Enterprise Facilitation project is targeting up to 5,000 refugees living in Sydney, utilising an evidence-based model developed by the Sirolli Institute. The service is free, confidential and mobile – with the Enterprise Facilitators travelling to the most convenient location for clients.

The project commenced in August and to date has seen almost 20 clients interested in establishing their own business, 75% of whom have previously owned businesses in their home countries.

There have been many interesting business propositions demonstrating the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of SSI clients.

The facilitators have met clients interested in starting businesses in photography, massage, IT, leatherwork, and even water desalination.

For more information on the project or how to get involved with the Resource Board, please contact Honey Muir, Senior Project Officer email:

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