Recognising the need to better support migrants and asylum seekers in our community, the ACT Government has committed funding to expand employment and English language supports for refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants.
Many newly arrived and migrant Canberrans often come with skills and work experience, but they face barriers in entering employment and participating in the life of our community.
Based on our values as a Refugee Welcome Zone, in the 2016 election ACT Labor committed to improve employment support and English language assistance for some of our most vulnerable, recently arrived Canberrans. The 2017-18 Budget included total funding of $1,392,000 over four years to achieve this.
Following consultation, the Government has delivered on this commitment by providing funding to expand four programs already working well in the ACT community:
- Multicultural Employment Service will receive $307,000 to develop and implement a 12 month, individual case managed employment program for refugees, asylum seekers and people from non-English speaking backgrounds, based on their existing services.
- Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services will receive $40,000 per year for four years to strengthen and expand current English language programs, including a home tutor program.
- CIT will receive an annual grant of $10,000 for four years to extend its existing English language programs.
- The ACT Government has also increased the number of participants in its Work Experience Support Program from 20 to 25, combining formalised training through the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) with an on-the-job-placement in an ACT Public Service workplace.
The English-language services are targeted to ACT Services Access Card holders, which means the services will support those asylum seekers whose claims are currently being processed by the Commonwealth Government.
Improving employment opportunities and support for new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers settling in Canberra is expected to be a key issue at the Multicultural Summit scheduled for later this year, and consultations through the Summit will assist the ACT Government in allocating the remaining funding.
Comments attributable to Minister for Multicultural Services, Rachel Stephen-Smith:
“I know that Canberra is an inclusive and diverse city, and Canberrans are willing to step up and support those in need. Services including the Multicultural Employment Service and MARSS have worked tirelessly, connecting with community members in need, and working with families, volunteers and community groups. “
“These expanded services are a testament to their good work and to the ACT Government’s ongoing commitment to support some of our most vulnerable. As a Refugee Welcome Zone, it’s all about ensuring our jurisdiction does the right thing.”
“I look forward to hearing further from community members about how we can build on these initiatives as part of the upcoming Multicultural Summit.”
Comments attributable to John Gunn, Director, Multicultural Employment Service:
“The vast majority of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with work rights dream about coming to Australia to work so they can support their families and their community.”
“Through this funding, the ACT Government has recognised that despite this dream, there are many highly skilled people willing to work who continue to be overlooked.”
“It is still very difficult for many. People with varying language and literacy levels need the most intensive support and there is still a lot of discrimination and prejudice against employing people from different backgrounds.”
“It is also important for us to ensure that everyone knows their work rights to avoid the risk of exploitation and abuse. I think the greatest lesson we have learnt is that it is essential to work equally with employers and employees to ensure the best outcomes for all.”
- Statement ends -
Section: Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases