Benevolent Assistance

The Refugee Mentoring Program - launched in June 2008 - is a part of Calvary’s Community Benefits program.

The Program aims to provide those with a refugee background and/or their children with the opportunity to gain some experience in the Australian workplace. The intention is to assist them gain a clearer idea of the career direction they might wish to pursue and what study might be necessary to achieve this.

It is also seen as a way of enhancing the participant’s self esteem, assisting participation in the community and fostering networks towards enabling effective and satisfying engagement within the Australian social and cultural context.

The Refugee Mentoring Program is an opportunity for Calvary staff to become directly involved in sharing their skills and expertise, to become aware of disadvantage in a more tangible way and to increase understanding of cultural differences.

SkillsOne chats to Susan Sullivan, Director of Mission, who shares the way the process works.

We hear from Teclu, who has just completed the program. Teclu is from Eritrea in East Africa and worked for his government as diplomat setting up embassies Lillianathroughout the world.

It has not been easy for Teclu to apply for and get a job in Australia. He never had to formerly apply for a job in Africa and did not know what to expect here. He did not understand the job titles or what field his own experience would fall under, he did not know which jobs to apply for or what to ask. Since he came from a different place nothing was obvious to him.

We also hear from Lilyana, who has been in Australia for nine years, who has just started working with Calvary. While she was waiting for residency for the first seven years here, she was not allowed to work or study. A fully qualified psychiatrist from Albania with 25 years experience throughout Europe, it has been a very frustrating process for Lilyana and her family. Australian work places do not recognise her Albanian qualifications so Lilyana has relied on Centrelink for a living while she took care of her daughter’s children. She does not like being the babysitter all the time and being so reliant on her daughter who she thinks deserves her own life. She also desperately wants to work in mental health and use her skills and knowledge.

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VJ Matthew Jenkin