Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
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News from AMES Australia

29 May 20190 comments

AMES staff vote for the first time
Two AMES Australia staff member have voted for the first time in the recent federal election.

AMES Australia Program Support Officer Ekhlas Franso and Client Support Worker Muhammad Raza were both excited at being able to cast a vote to help decide on Australia’s government and the future direction of the nation.

Ekhlas, a refugee from Iraq, says being able to vote is a right and a responsibility.

She says her vote was important to her because it meant she has finally found a full, new life in a stable and free society.

“In Iraq every time we voted it was with fear. No one forced us to vote a certain way but if we didn’t vote for the right person there could be trouble but here there is a democracy and freedom,” Ekhlas said.

“Becoming citizens last December was really important for my sisters and me. We now feel like we belong somewhere and we can move on with our lives,” she said.

“On election day we cast our votes like other Australians. It was be a privilege and it marks our good luck in becoming a part of this wonderful country,” Ekhlas said.

Raza says he feels that he now belongs in Australia and has a stake in the fortunes of country.

The ethnic Hazara refugee who grew up in Pakistan was never afforded legal status there, let alone the right to vote.

“I feel that I am now part of this country and I took the responsibility to vote seriously. It was a privilege and I am grateful to Australia for giving me a new life and full place in this society,” Raza said.

Enjoy a meal for a good cause
During Refugee Week the Multicultural Hub will host “Taste the Difference”, a dinner that gives ordinary Melburnians a chance to dine with extraordinary Melburnians – those who arrived on our shores as refugees.

Enjoy a delicious meal made by refugees who are forging their own micro-businesses. Taste Somali, Karen and Syrian delights, and enjoy music from a variety of refugee musicians.

Each table will host two refugees giving attendees of the event the chance to discuss their incredible journeys through intimate conversation.

This is a great chance for the public to learn more about the humans behind the headlines, or indeed if you can invite someone you know who needs to gain this valuable exposure, “Taste the Difference” is an ideal night out.

Proceeds from the night will go to AMES Australia People in Need Fund supporting our settlement clients.

Bookings are essential and tickets sell very quickly, so make sure to book your tickets before it’s too late:

Forum explores benefits of hiring migrants, refugees
AMES Australia this week held a forum for employers exploring the benefits of hiring refugee and migrants to boost business performance and access an underutilised talent pool.

Around 30 representatives of corporate, government and community sector employers attended the event at Flagstaff and heard first hand from (a migrant who successfully navigated Australia’s job market) and employers who’ve had success hiring migrants and refugees that are now contributing to their business.

AMES Australia Employment Liaison Counsellor Drue Vickery told the gathering that better utilisation of the skills of migrants and refugees means a stronger Australian economy.

“The International Monetary Fund calculates that investment in supporting refugees brings a return more than 1.8 times the initial investment within five years,” Drue said.

“Australian research by Deloitte Access Economics late last year found that the Queensland economy would be $250 million larger in ten years if it tapped into the under-utilised talent and experience of skilled migrants and refugees working in jobs they were overqualified for,” he said.

But Drue said there were significant barriers for migrants and refugees in finding jobs and becoming taxpayers and that for refugees, the first few years could be particularly tough.

“Migrant and refugee jobseekers find a lack of local work experience and a foreign sounding name were among the barriers new arrivals to Australia face in finding work here,” he said.
He said migrants also felt excluded by recruitment processes.

AMES alumnus and Indian migrant Vishal Sharma told the forum how he sent out 150 job applications, however around 92% received no reply at all, despite matching very closely with the requirements.

Vishal took part in an AMES Australia’s Skilled Professional Migrants Program (SPMP) and now has secured a job as a business analyst with Melbourne Water.

“Getting so many negative responses can be disheartening but if you persevere, in the end, you’ll get a job,” Vishal said.

PVAW graduate nominated for a Seven News Young Achievers Award
Rahima Wahidi a graduate of AMES Australia’s Prevention of Violence against Women (PVaW) Leadership course has been nominated for the Seven News Young Achievers Awards in South Australia.

Since graduating from the course, Rahima has been working hard to bring about cultural change for women in her community. As a lawyer she assists individuals impacted by family violence and has given many women a voice and a choice.

The twenty-four-old from Salisbury in South Australia came to Australia in 2005 as a refugee escaping persecution in Afghanistan.

Despite not speaking English, she persevered to improve her language skills and worked hard to complete Year 12.

She went on to University, receiving the Dean of Law Grant and completing her Bachelor of Laws and International Relations.

Now a junior solicitor, Rahima has been delivering presentations to various community groups to explain how Australian law works.

“I am part of a Family Law and Family Violence program at a community legal centre and provide legal advice and represent victims of domestic violence. I also run seminars to explain how the Australian law works to individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds with a focus on primary prevention of domestic violence. My male colleague, on my request, runs seminars for men to change their attitudes and I run seminars to women only.

“I feel honoured to be nominated for the Seven News Young Achievers Awards for the work that I do, it’s my passion to assist women who have been through difficult times.
“I am grateful for the support I receive from Wendy and the graduates of the 2018 AMES Australia’s Prevention of Violence against Women Leadership course. I am thankful that I did the PVaW leadership course and I would encourage everyone to do it”, Rahima said.