- IKEA Australia has used Refugee Week to confirm it will make permanent its pilot refugee employment program.
- The company has issued a call to other Australian businesses to consider employing refugees.
- Researchers say perceived barriers still exist, but can be overcome.
“For example, we were not allowed to buy basic SIM cards under our own name because being an Afghan you don’t have a valid Iranian identification card.”
Zeynab Noori says she feels good about giving back and helping to induct other refugees in the workplace, easing their anxieties and helping them to feel at home. Source: Supplied / IKEA Australia
Those early years in Australia were tough. Learning the English language was one challenge, feeling a sense of belonging was another.
“The sense of belonging doesn’t click straight away. You don’t feel like you fit in.”
“It made a huge difference in my confidence, how I presented myself in the society and how I talk to people. Having my own source of income, I feel I’m standing on my own two feet.”
“I feel programs like this really should be embraced, and I can see how much value refugees bring,” she said. “People are important in any community and society; every person has their own story … that is what makes a society stronger and more diverse.
“It is an investment for our workplace and society. We encourage other companies to get started, otherwise you’re missing out on a fantastic opportunity,” she said.
Calls for other companies to follow suit
“I’ve had about 16 roundtables, over 100 employers, which includes 11 social enterprises. I’ve had over 250 people come to those roundtables,” Ms Choo said.
Professor Szkudlarek said factors that present challenges include concerns about getting it perfect and finding service providers who can match the company’s needs with the refugee talent pool.
University of Sydney Professor Betina Szkudlarek said her research has found companies that have yet to start a refugee employment pathway or program overinflate the challenges of implementation. Source: Supplied / Betina Szkudlarek
She said there is a when employers who have started a refugee employment program often perceive the barriers to be much larger than they are in reality.
Refugee Week runs from 18 June to 24 June.