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Training and education is the focus of a new employment support program currently underway in Wollongong designed to help people from refugee backgrounds secure work and settle into Australian society.

The Employment Support Program is being delivered in partnership between two not-for-profit companies: SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families) and ETC (Enterprise and Training Company Limited).

SCARF Manager Sharyn Mackenzie said helping refugees secure employment was fundamental in helping them resettle.

“Currently there are over 700 members of the Illawarra refugee community registered with SCARF, and more than 200 households in the Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas have received some level of support from SCARF,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Finding employment is a major goal for our community members. It is widely acknowledged that if you’ve got a job you feel more a part of the broader community – more included.

“This program aims to reduce some of the many barriers to employment faced by refugees, including: lack of Australian work experience, lack of knowledge of Australian workplace systems and culture, lack of qualifications and difficulties with recognition of skills, qualifications and experience.”

Ms Mackenzie said the program would assist with employment growth in the Illawarra region by providing targeted training and support in industries where paid employment opportunities were more likely to be available to participants.

“We currently have 22 people enrolled in the program, 13 of whom are undertaking Certificate III Housekeeping and 9 are learning café’/hospitality skills,” Ms Mackenzie said.

Once the training is completed, SCARF will support the participants in their search for employment by helping with resumes, job applications and interviews.

Ms Mackenzie acknowledged ETC’s contribution of $7,500 towards the program through the ETC Community Support Fund.

“SCARF is an independent, not-for-profit, community based organisation and without the support of companies such as ETC we wouldn’t be able to deliver our award winning programs,” she said.

“I would also like to thank ETC for accessing additional funding from State Training Services under the Strategic Skills Program to enable us to train more participants than originally planned.”

ETC Chairman Rod McKelvey said it was a pleasure to be able to support SCARF.

“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations improve the social and economic development of local communities,” Mr McKelvey said.

“ETC is proud to be a not-for-profit company and we are confident the money we are donating will help make a more positive future for our community.

“Since 1989, ETC has placed over 51,000 Australians into jobs, trained more than 23,000 people, helped over 34,000 small businesses to start-up and grow, and contributed in excess of $25 million to the local communities in which we operate.”



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