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A job for refugee Samir breaks 7 years of unemployment

By June 7, 2022June 22nd, 2023No Comments
uLaunch - a job for refugee samir

Fifty-six-year-old Samir* arrived in Fairfield NSW in 2015 as an Iraqi refugee. With only primary school education in his native Arabic language, he had never found employment in his new country.

Seven years of unemployment, plus the trauma of fleeing his homeland with his wife and daughters had left him feeling depressed and hopeless about his job prospects.

In May 2021, he started meeting with Jobfind’s disability employment consultant, Basma Chammo, and within months, he had a job.

Connecting through culture and shared experience

Basma knows what it’s like to be a refugee in a new country. Her own family arrived in Australia in 2017 under similar circumstances to Samir.

After Basma completed her teaching and TESOL qualifications, she decided to work in employment services “because I have to start with my community…to give back to my community.”

Many Iraqi refugees call Fairfield City home; it is identified as a humanitarian settlement area. Speaking four community languages helps Basma to connect with job seekers who have limited English.

“Samir was initially very hesitant to engage with me. But I was able to speak with him in Arabic and Chaldean and that helped him to feel more at ease,” explains Basma.

Job matching to the right employer

Samir was concerned that he would not be able to understand work instructions or fit in with a team because of his low level of English. On top of that, he needed a suitable job to accommodate his physical limitations.

To find the right employer for her client, Basma consulted with her colleague, Norma Ibrahim, Jobfind Employer Engagement Coordinator. Norma meets with local employers to understand their recruitment needs and workplaces. Over the years, Norma has brokered many jobs for local job seekers, matching their skills and capabilities to employers in the local area.

After understanding Samir’s needs, Norma instantly thought of a local cleaning company headed up by an Arabic and Chaldean speaking owner.

Even though the city was in COVID-19 lockdowns, the cleaning company had plenty of work and needed staff.

“This employer was even willing to offer transport to our job seeker who doesn’t drive,” says Basma.

Financial and psychosocial assistance to start work

Even with a supportive employer offering work, Samir was hesitant to start.

“I spent a lot of time talking to him about the benefits of working for him and his family,” explains Basma, who also encouraged Samir to start work and break his isolation from his community.

Samir started with a work trial, an important first step to overcome his hesitancy and allow the employer to assess his suitability for the job.

With work instructions in how own language, and modified duties, Samir was soon performing well in his job, working 15 hours a week.

At 15 hours a week, Samir’s job also qualified the employer to receive a wage subsidy from the Australian Government, administered by Jobfind.

As a Disability Employment Services provider, Jobfind can offer eligible employers a wage subsidy to help with the cost of taking on and sustaining a disability employment services job seeker.

And with 52 weeks of post-placement support offered to all disability employment service job seekers, Basma and Samir continue to meet.

“I teach Samir some key words in English so he can ask for help on the job if he needs it,” says Basma. “I also keep in touch with the employer and he appreciates that I check in to see how Samir is developing on the job.”

Still employed six months later

To his own surprise, Samir has settled in well with his new team, job tasks and manager. Six months on, he’s still enjoying his work with the cleaning company and has moved his family to better accommodation.

“He’s happy now,” says Basma. “He finally feels secure and has peace of mind.”

*Name changed for privacy.

Contact Jobfind

Jobfind’s Disability Employment Services can help eligible job seekers to upskill and apply for meaningful and sustainable work. Jobfind also offers a no-cost recruitment service to help employers to find, hire and retain the right staff for their business. Enquire if Jobfind is in your local area by emailing