Job seekers from migrant and refugee background, as well as people living with a disability, were at the centre of a recent pilot project organised by SSI Linkers from the Metro North West team and SydWest Multicultural Services in Blacktown.
Over 60 people actively looking for employment attended the Blacktown Employment Accelerator held at Blacktown City Council to connect with potential employers, service providers and community organisations offering targeted support, such as resume and cover letter writing.
“Finding employment is not only one of the highest priorities, but also one of the biggest hurdles during the settlement process for refugees and migrants,” said SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.
“However, the barriers to achieving sustainable employment grow exponentially for those living with a disability, who are usually at the most vulnerable end of the spectrum of the newly-arrived community.”
SSI knows this and, besides delivering the Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) program, it developed innovative initiatives that ensure the social and economic participation of people with disability in all aspects of our community. These include EmployAbility, which offers tailored career pathways or IgniteAbility, which supports people with disability to start their own businesses, Ms Roumeliotis said.
The Blacktown Employment Accelerator was co-developed by SSI ALNSW as a community development project after the local team identified radical variations in the unemployment rates across the LGA, peaking at around 20 per cent in areas such as Bidwill, Hebersham, Emerton and Lethbridge Park, Tregear.
A concerning trend also shows that unemployment rate improvements seen during 2012 to 2013 were disappearing. This prompted, prompted SSI Linkers in the area to begin envisaging work that could be done to improve job prospects for unemployed ALNSW participants and community members — particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and recently arrived refugees.
Twenty-year old Joel, who arrived in Australia earlier this year from Syria, was one of the job seekers who attended the Employment Accelerator to improve her working situation.
“I’m currently working as an admin assistant at UNHCR; however, I only do five days a fortnight, which isn’t enough,” she said.
“I’m here today to try to find another job I can combine with the one I have, as I need to work full time to be able to make a living.”
Mahnaz also arrived in Australia on a humanitarian visa but isfrom Iran. She’s been here for two years, but she hasn’t been able to secure a job yet.
“I need to find a job. I’m looking in the aged care sector but I would be happy to take any offer I get today,” she said. “I used to work as a teacher, but here I don’t have my qualifications recognised and that’s not an option — so I need to expand my search.”
The job seekers attending the event had the opportunity to connect with representatives of organisations such as Bolton Clarke, BE Campbell, Macarthur Aged Care, Ridley, Hire Up, Thrive Refugee Enterprise, Reach for Training, Max Solutions and Parramatta College.
You can check out the photos of the event here.