Introducing the Uplift project

With Uplift, we're helping to overcome barriers to employment for people seeking asylum in our community. ASC's Head of Services and Engagement, Kristine de Guzman, speaks about this impactful new project. May 09, 2023
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Head of Services and Engagement Kristine de Guzman speaks with a member of the Asylum Seekers Centre community.

A job for a person seeking asylum is never just a job.

We want to share with you a project which the Asylum Seekers Centre has begun work on in 2023 called Uplift. The Uplift project will help people seeking asylum into work – because unlocking employment opportunities is the key to so much more.

Employment is the gateway to independence, stability, pride and a community. The money earned through work brings food, medicine and a home to the family.

Without work, people seeking asylum very quickly end up in crisis because there is no mainstream safety net of welfare from our Federal Government.

Four barriers to employment

Uplift is a multi-year exploration into four identified barriers to people seeking asylum finding work. The barriers being addressed are a lack of access to childcare; inadequate suitable English language support; minimal university and vocational training; and a lack of employer recognition of people seeking asylum’s skills and potential.

We will be looking for immediate practical results, while also ensuring this work can be sustainable and ongoing. We will lift the barriers for more people to find work this year and identify opportunities to impact an even greater number of people in the future.

Our project partner 

The Paul Ramsay Foundation is the Asylum Seekers Centre’s valued partner in this project. The Foundation’s purpose includes helping end cycles of disadvantage in Australia by enabling equitable opportunity for people and communities to thrive. This is a perfect match with the existing work of the ASC in assisting people with their job-seeking activities by addressing the barriers and supporting the whole person’s needs.

This project has added three new team members to our existing Employment, Community Engagement and Family teams and we are delighted to welcome their experience in employment, higher education, language learning and childcare. Many volunteers will also bring their skills and ideas to the project.

Systemic and sustainable change

We also recognise that there are many systemic challenges that affect people seeking asylum – the laws and policies that impact their visa pathways, income support and access to education. This project will also involve strategic advocacy towards shifting the larger societal and governmental issues that influence the ability of people seeking asylum to find work.

Sustainability is the ultimate goal of this project. What we are aiming for is for people seeking asylum to see pathways and build relationships that enable them to thrive in the community when they seek safety in Australia, and to create systemic change.

I want to share a quote from a person in our community who recently got moved onto a visa with work rights after not being allowed to work for many years. He wrote to an employer who offered him work:

“It was a great experience to interview with (your company) and a blessing to get to meet with your team. Thank you for being the first employer who was willing to shake my hand and consider me to join the team. This means a lot to me.”

We look forward to updating you on this exciting project and providing stories, successes and some of the challenges over the coming years.

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