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30 Jan 2017


Volunteer uses business experience to help young refugees

 Mr Elgey is putting his business experience to use helping young refugees and migrants.

Mr Elgey is one of dozens of mentors giving flexible career support to refugee and migrant youth as part of SSI Youth@Work – an innovative program that helps these young workers to overcome the unique workplace barriers they face and retain employment.

“The importance of having a job is enormous – it does so many things above providing money, which is of course important. It gives you contact and conversations with other people, shared experiences, social events and friendships. And the pride you get from doing a good job and earning your pay can do wonders for your self-esteem,” he said.

Young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds face unique challenges that can affect their ability to secure and retain work, such as disrupted early education, separation from family, language barriers and a lack of knowledge about the local employment environment and employers’ expectations.

“Navigating the workplace can be daunting, particularly for a young person new to Australia. It’s inspiring to be part of their growth and development,” Mr Elgey said. “I feel tremendous pride for my country and know that I am lucky to have been born in such a society. It’s a great feeling to lend a hand to those who now chose to call Australia home and want to work to be part of it.”

For the past two months, Mr Elgey has been mentoring Sayed – a young man from Afghanistan who came to Australia as a refugee last year.

“In a very short period of time, he has found and kept a job in construction, and his English skills are improving. He enjoys his work and knows many suburbs and transport options around Sydney already due to the locations he gets to work in – more places than some people who have lived in Sydney for a very long time!” Mr Elgey said.

While the pair were both a bit nervous during their initial meeting, they’ve now settled into a relaxed mentoring routine.

“So far, we have exchanged a few texts – checking that everything is okay and there are no issues or questions regarding his work, pay, holidays and so forth, Mr Elgey said. “We have met over coffee also and started to talk a little about career planning and perhaps some training in future.”

“I hope it has given him confidence to know he has someone he can turn to if he has questions about Australian workplaces.”

While Mr Elgey has volunteered in a range of areas in the past, his experience with Youth@Work has been unique in that it has enabled him to pass on his own knowledge and skills.

“It’s a great, tangible way to use the experience I have gained in different workplaces, applying for jobs, working with others, managing my training, and to share those experiences with someone who is not as familiar with the Australian way of working and show them how to make the most of (and enjoy!) their job,” he said.

“Being able to help someone experience the positive outcomes from work, improving yourself and forming friendships, is a privilege and a responsibility.”

Youth@Work is currently open to young people of refugee or migrant background who are interested in getting one-on-one support and advice to help them to reach their employment goals.

Participants must be:

  • Aged 15–24 years
  • Living in the Greater Western Sydney and South Western Sydney area
  • Employed or completing an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • From a migrant or refugee background and have lived in Australia for less than 10 years
  • Facing vocational or non-vocational barriers

Service providers and employers are encouraged to refer participants who are likely to benefit from the program.


T: (02) 8799 6700

M: 0487 680 207


Click the link below for more details.

SSI Youth@Work

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