Since the Refugee Council of Australia began its work in 1981, we have consistently seen and documented how refugees who come to Australia and seek protection or who are resettled, are strongly motivated to rebuild their lives in this country. They wish to work, to contribute to their local communities, to start their own businesses and to ensure their children prosper.
The assumption from the Australian Government should be that refugee and humanitarian entrants, like other Australians, want to work in ways that draw on their skills, experience and aspirations. Employment services should also be built on this assumption, helping to remove barriers that prevent full economic participation. As such, RCOA welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback to the Select Committee on Workforce Australia Employment Services on its first-principles review.
This submission briefly outlines the experiences of people from refugee backgrounds integrating into the Australian labour market and their experiences of Federally funded employment services in supporting this transition.
Our recommendations then focus on key principles that should underpin an employment service system that benefits jobseekers from all backgrounds, including refugees and people seeking asylum: (1) Recognition that diverse experiences require diverse strategies; (2) Access and equity principles embedded in service design and delivery; (3) Funding models that incentivise collaborative, flexible, and person-centred approaches; (4); Targeted investment in specialist refugee employment services; and (5) Eligibility to employment services inclusive of people seeking asylum.