Leonie Dyer, Coordinator of the ‘Empowered to Work’ employment program received the ‘Best Project’ award at the 2018 Humanitarian Awards
Leonie Dyer, Coordinator of the ‘Empowered to Work’ employment program received the ‘Best Project’ award at the 2018 Humanitarian Awards co-hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). The awards ceremony took place at Customs House in Sydney on 15 July 2018 as part of the launch of Refugee Week 2018, whose theme #WithRefugees aimed primarily to celebrate the agency, resilience and contributions of people with lived experience.
Empowered to Work, a partnership between JRS Australia and House of Welcome in NSW, aims to support refugees and people seeking asylum find pathways to employment in Australia.
The program helps people obtain prerequisite certifications, develop their resumes, prepare for interviews, and find meaningful employment and or placements. It also enables partnerships with potential employers.
In the last year, Empowered to Work has supported 210 people seeking asylum to navigate the employment system in Australia, to access opportunities for training, and to gain employment.
Ms Dyer who works part-time for both JRS Australia and House of Welcome, and is a co-founder of Mums4Refugees said “I was delighted to receive this award for Empowered to Work. The people I work with are often in vulnerable situations and employment is vital to their financial, social and emotional well-being. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to serve and accompany people as they find pathways to training and employment, and to see the positive impact it has had on their lives. I’m so grateful for all the support the project receives from the Parramatta and Cumberland councils through the Stronger Communities funding, the Empowered to Work volunteers, community members, and the staff at JRS Australian and House of Welcome.”
As the Australian government cuts thousands of people seeking asylum like Shanthi and Priyan off income support, case work, and torture and trauma counselling services, employment assistance is likely to become ever more important as a means of finding independence, dignity, and respect in our society.
Like everyone else in Australia, the overwhelming majority of people seeking asylum want to work. Many can and do find sustainable employment, but others face significant barriers – of language, of qualifications not being recognized, of dealing with a history of persecution and trauma, and of lack of connections to enable a foot in the door.
JRS Australia Director Carolina Gottardo said, “we are thrilled that our partnership with House of Welcome has been recognized at the 2018 Humanitarian Awards. This program is innovative and has achieved amazing results in a short period of time. Employment support for people seeking asylum is more vital than ever. We will continue working to strengthen Empowered to Work to respond to the increased demand for these services from people seeking asylum as a result of the latest government cuts to support services. Given the need, we will also work to secure further funding for its expansion.”