From the CEO
Cath Scarth, AMES Australia CEO
A new Victorian parliamentary report Inquiry into Sustainable Employment for Disadvantaged Jobseekers which sets out measures to support disadvantaged jobseekers, including refugees and migrants, into employment is very welcome.
The Victorian Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committee’s report makes 70 recommendations aimed at improving disadvantaged jobseekers employment prospects.
As a longstanding settlement provider for refugees and service provider for the wider migrant community, AMES Australia made a submission and appeared at the hearing.
The report recommended English language programs and delivery modes tailored to the needs of newly arrived migrant and refugee jobseekers.
Pleasingly, it also called for pilot a program to support recently arrived refugee jobseekers gain recognition of their overseas qualifications based on the Federal Government’s Career Pathways Pilot for refugees which AMES was involved with.
We at AMES know these would be positive moves.
The report also recommends that the Victorian Government ensure outcomes‑based funding models for employment services do not discourage providers from working with these harder‑to‑place individuals. We know harder-to-place doesn’t mean a lesser contribution to the community or economy by the jobseeker.
The report is timely because we know a one size-fits all approach to employment services fails to take into account the unique barriers people such as migrants and refugees face when trying to enter the workforce.
It was good to see the committee’s recommendations recognise the need to support people with extra barriers to employment, especially at a time when we are suffering the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only this week we shared the story of an Iranian pharmacist Aram Shaabo who our teams have worked with for more than three years to gain recognition of his professional qualifications. His skills are highly valuable at a time like now with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
We know that intensive early support for newly arrived migrants and refugees in finding work can result in large dividends for individuals, their families, communities and society as a whole.
The report comes as the latest data on employment participation rates shows that for migrants from non-English speaking countries it has fallen to about three per cent below the rate for mainly English speaking Australians.
And, the sectors that have lost most jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic include: transport, warehousing, retail, accommodation and food services – all of which have a high proportions of migrant workers.
We think this report and its recommendations are a great step toward ensuring that our economic recovery is an inclusive one.
22 August 2020