After fleeing from Ethiopia to take political refuge in Australia in 2008, Eski Mengistie was eager for a safe haven to start his life afresh. But a limited network of contacts, lack of local experience and confusing recruitment process meant that Eski spent one year unemployed, frustrated at the opportunities he was missing despite his qualifications and experience.
Determined to make the most of his new opportunity, Eski approached the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people who are experiencing poverty and disadvantage in Australia. It was here that Eski met Jo Tabit, a Senior Manager of Workforce Solutions. Jo helped to enrol him in the Brotherhood’s Given the Chance program, which could provide the information and support Eski needed to secure a job.
“Given the Chance is a supported model to get people into jobs,” said Jo. “We often see refugee participants with incredible skills, patience and experience in their own country, but despite their best efforts, they’re knocked back.”
“When you come from a third world country, you have an expectation that everything will be smooth, you’ll get a job right away and you’ll start to live a better life in a month’s time”
With many refugees experiencing a long struggle to obtain residency in a new country, securing employment is a major milestone in the process of starting a new life.
“When you come from a third world country, you have an expectation that everything will be smooth, you’ll get a job right away and you’ll start to live a better life in a month’s time,” said Eski. “The reality is a bit different. You’re starting from scratch, you don’t have a network and finding a job is an extremely hard process.”
Despite this, Jo says that refugees are one of the most highly motivated groups she has worked with in her role. “They’ve been through so much to get here and they want to give back to society,” she said. “They want to contribute, but don’t know enough about the system to make it work.”
With help from Jo and the Given the Chance program, Eski was able to secure a permanent role with Credit card sales Consultant in opportunity which has enabled him to finally start his new life in Australia. “Being back in the workforce really builds your confidence and makes you feel like you’re part of the community. It is also rewarding to be able to make a contribution back to this community” said Eski.
Given the Chance is a work placement program developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, giving refugees the opportunity to gain some experience or work in Australia and the Australian workplace culture, with the potential at the end of the placement for a permanent role in ANZ.