The challenge to find work
As they compound, such experiences – combined with a pre-migration experience of interrupted employment – can have negative impacts on labour market prospects in the long term.
For the vast majority of recent refugees, unemployment means low income, which in turn can exacerbate health issues and present a barrier to well-being in a range of other ways. The ability to secure decent housing, for example, is dependent on income and in turn, sustainable employment.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence's Given the Chance - workforce solutions that matter program not only assists refugees, asylum seekers and other marginalised jobseekers find work, it also supports employers to grow and diversify their workplaces.
As well as offering real employment opportunities, the program is an inspiring initiative that fosters social benefit and connectedness in workplace communities.
Given the Chance helps refugees become involved in the wider community and it encourages that wider community to become more inclusive. Mentoring, work placements, training and employment expand social networks and create new and constructive interactions.
Its aims are to create social, educational and employment pathways for refugees and other marginalised job seekers. The benefits are great for recipients but there are also some sound business reasons behind embracing this program.
The business case for compassionate employment policies
Perhaps the strongest reason is the value of a workforce which really reflects your customer base - for example, a South Sudanese participant in the Given the Chance@ANZ programbecame the top teller and exceeded referral targets because of his role as a community leader in the local Sudanese population.
Community members relied on him to help them with their banking needs, along with their other community concerns, leading to a whole new market of customers for the ANZ.
ANZ's senior manager of its inclusion program, Fiona Vines, emphasises it is "so important for the bank's staff to reflect its customer base".
"It really means a lot to many of our customers to see a teller in a branch who comes from the same country and speaks the same language, it makes the bank a more welcoming environment," she told me.
Having a diverse range of employees can also make your existing staff feel really proud of the organisation they work for.
Matthew, a manager of Event Cleaning Melbourne said his experience with the program was so positive he would employ an asylum seeker any day.
"We took on three people from the asylum seeker program, two of whom have continued to work for us. They were no trouble. They worked really hard and got on with the job. For me, it has been very satisfying helping someone who really needs the job and appreciates it," Matthew said.
Fiona says her staff love the program. "Our people like to know we're doing the right thing in the community and supporting people who have come from disadvantage.
"We call it the Halo Effect - when you work for a large corporate, programs like Given the Chance make our staff feel really positive. It personalises the whole refugee/asylum seeker issues in a way that builds empathy and understanding. It is incredibly inspiring to see how resilient and determined the participants can be."