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Rob Valentine’s Parliamentary Address – 16 August 2016

Rob Valentine’s Parliamentary Address – 16 August 2016

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Mr VALENTINE (Hobart) – “Mr President, there is a lot of discussion around people who try to find asylum in Australia and come to this country with hope they may find a life here and we know the various stories around detention.

Today I speak on a new initiative developed between the Rotary Club of City Central Hobart and the Australian Red Cross, specifically their Migration Services and Support Programs team.  It is an initiative in its very early stages but one set to make a significant difference to the experience of job seeking for some of Hobart’s most vulnerable residents.

The Migrant Job Club will target refugees and asylum seekers who have working visas and who reside in Hobart while they wait for the outcome of their protection claim.  The project staff will work to assist these people and support them in maintaining both paid and volunteer employment that is fair and productive to their lives.  According to the Red Cross’s Vulnerability Report 2013, people in this circumstance, who are vulnerable as a result of migration, exist in a painful, protracted state of uncertainty.  You can well imagine the truth of that.  It is encouraging to note the report also acknowledges that despite this the human spirit is resilient.

The project is not designed to directly find these people work, but to support them in developing their skills in searching for paid employment or volunteer work and assist them in the bigger picture of making career choices.  The project is focused on aiding refugees to overcome the not insignificant barriers that exist for people from other cultures in seeking and gaining meaningful employment.

One of the club’s aims is to extend to refugees the benefits of connections to employers and opportunities that are enjoyed by local Tasmanians.  In some instances, this will build on strong ties already forged by some of these people with local employers, showcasing the benefits of such keen engagement and vocational networking.

The club also aims to develop participants’ knowledge of their rights and obligations as a worker in Tasmania.  Volunteers in the club will provide group support in the form of information sessions and employer breakfasts.  Importantly, it will offer assistance via one-to-one mentoring as may be required.

It is worthwhile noting the excellent contribution to this project offered by volunteers from Rotary’s networks, as well as volunteers from Hobart’s general public.  The project is expected to provide excellent personal development opportunities to all its volunteers, who will be ably supported in their work by employees from the Red Cross’s Migration Services and Support Programs team.

The Red Cross plays a further important role here, not only in their promotion of the project and participant recruitment, but also in identifying participants’ particular needs and cultural issues.

The project design will be flexible and will be formed based on feedback from participants about their needs and interests.  It will commence with an initial program of 10 sessions, likely to include professional mentoring, workers’ rights education, resume writing, presentations from human resources staff or other staff from organisations connected with Rotary through its volunteer base, presentations or Q&A style panels of Rotarians at various stages in their career discussing their employment experiences – that includes students, employed professionals and retirees – offering volunteer opportunities with Rotary projects, and other networking and social interaction opportunities.  The inaugural session of the Migrant Job Club will be held at the Red Cross in Melville Street on Thursday 8 September.  Attendance for participants is, of course, free of charge.

I am sure you will all join with me in wishing them every success with this project.”

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