Refugees: consider their contribution

23 June 2015

'People come to Australia, new, we are very isolated, and I think it's a good way to connect the communities,' says Brotherhood of St Laurence project worker Ajak Kwai in a video published last week by SBS.

Ajak (pictured) is part of the Brotherhood's Bridging Women’s Worlds program, run in partnership with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre to assist refugee and migrant women.

Last Saturday was World Refugee Day, a day to reflect upon the challenges faced by the millions of people around the world who are seeking a safer life for themselves and their families. 

It also offers a chance to consider some of the more positive stories and focus on the contribution that refugees and asylum seekers can and do make. 

Ajak's story of resilience is one of many, as confirmed by news-site The Conversation in an article last week.

'[T]here are positive stories to be told about asylum seekers and refugees and their relationship with the Australian community. 

'One is the work of the Brotherhood of St­ Laurence with Australian employers and asylum seekers and refugees from 19 countries.'

The Brotherhood's Given the Chance program, in almost two years, has found 232 jobs for asylum seekers who have work rights. 

In another uplifting story, last Sunday The Age reported on a new cafe in North Richmond that employs asylum seekers.

The inner-city Melbourne cafe, or social enterprise, works with community organisations when hiring staff. Many of the referrals are from the Brotherhood.

'Over the next week," said The Age, 'a Gambian man, a Malaysian woman and an Iranian woman will start shifts at the cafe, learning hospitality from the ground up.' 

Watch the SBS video »

Read The Age story: Activists' long haul to cafe dreams coming true

Read The Conversation story: ‘Very loyal’ productive workers: the same people we fear as refugees

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