Four years ago this month, our government made the historic decision to add an additional 12,000 places to Australia’s refugee intake for refugees affected by the war in Syria and Iraq.
Participants cooking in the Disaster Chef Cook-Off at The Staples Bag Camperdown Grand Opening
This act of humanity welcomed individuals, children and families in dire need of our support and triggered the Australian community to mobilise and help our new neighbours turn a foreign land into their home.
Through partnerships forged between not-for-profits, governments, and corporate Australia, we have helped this cohort begin their new lives in Australia.
But many other refugees and people seeking asylum are still in need of community support in order to achieve their full potential.
For example, securing employment is a critical marker of integration. It sets refugees up for economic independence and helps them to forge social connections outside of their family and diaspora community. Employment is particularly important for people seeking asylum in Australia as they are ineligible for income support. Since last year, the government funded support program for people seeking asylum, SRSS, has also begun exiting people who are deemed ‘work ready’.
Both refugees and people seeking asylum face a number of unique employment barriers such as lack of local work experience or recognition of prior skills and experience. Thankfully, there are more and more community oriented employers who also see great benefit in supporting jobseekers to secure meaningful, sustainable employment. It’s a win-win as they also gain access to a diverse and often untapped talent pool.
A great example of this is Soft Landing Smithfield, which has found work for 21 people seeking asylum. You can read more about that here.
These kinds of partnerships form a key part of the work done by SSI’s Employment team, which partners with up to 100 employers in a given year. SSI’s integrated approach to employment ensures individuals get the right support, while also maximising the services we can provide in a more integrated way and delivering great value for our funders.
Our work in the employment space is constantly evolving. Since July 2015, SSI has supported job seekers through JobActive to become work ready and employable, as well as assisting them to find and maintain a job. That move into employment has since been complemented with a number of social enterprises and diversification into more specialist areas such as the Refugee Employment Support Program.
Our recent win of funding from the iCare Foundation and the NDIS reflects the leaps and bounds we have made in establishing SSI in the employment sector. One program will see SSI upskill injured workers to find work, while the other will roll out cultural awareness training to one of our nation’s largest workforces.
With the help of government and philanthropic funders, community-minded employers, staff and volunteers, SSI is supporting thousands of jobseekers every year to overcome barriers to employment.
In the coming months, one entertaining way you can support more refugees on the pathways to employment is by sponsoring or attending SSI’s Mosaic Gala, which will be held in Sydney on November 15. This event raises critical funds for our scholarships that help refugees to overcome financial barriers to education, along with Ignite® Small Business Start-ups, which supports refugee entrepreneurs into business. This year, we’re particularly pleased to have award-winning author, artist and comedian Anh Do joining us as a keynote speaker. Click here to get involved.