The Refugee Employment Support Program (RESP) - delivered by Settlement Services International (SSI) and partners - has been extended by 18 months until December 2023.
Skills and Training Minister Alister Henskens made the announcement during a recent visit to SSI's Liverpool office that the five-year pilot program is continuing.
In five years, RESP has assisted up to 8000 refugees and 2000 people seeking asylum in western Sydney and the Illawarra to have access to pathways to secure, long-term employment.
One of those is Saif Noori, a refugee from Iraq, who RESP enabled to re-establish his career in medicine.
Although having a bachelor's degree in medicine and surgery and four years working in Al-Iman Ali Hospital in Baghdad, Mr Noori, who came to Australia alone, needed to get his qualifications recognised and pass an English test.
With two years of hard study, and the support of his RESP employment facilitator, Mr Noori completed the Australian Medical Council exams, occupational English test exam, and his AHPRA registration. He is now an Emergency Resident Medical Officer at Royal Hobart Hospital.
RESP also provided financial support and educational courses that helped him pass the exams, and even get his driver's licence.
The impact of the program has been significant, with sustainable employment secured for almost 30 per cent of participants, exceeding the national figure of 17 per cent of refugees in paid employment after 18 months in Australia.
Participants work with multicultural employment specialists who can provide tailored support based on the participant's skills, experience and goals.
SSI's head of employment services Joudy Lazkany said the strength of RESP lies in its focus on delivering community-based solutions through a partnership of local employers, the community sector, state government agencies, and other non-government organisations to connect those with eligible training, support and jobs.
"RESP has been instrumental in featuring employment as an integrated part of the whole settlement journey and has provided necessary relief to the challenges faced by humanitarian migrants who are already susceptible to unemployment and underemployment on arrival to Australia," she said.
"The extension of the RESP program highlights that cross-sector collaboration and tailored, community-based employment supports lead to better long-term outcomes for all - humanitarian migrants, businesses, and the Australian economy.
"We thank the NSW Department of Education, NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement Professor Peter Shergold, and our SSI employment services team and partners for their hard work over the last five years that has led to this extension."
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