In late March we celebrated the launch of our new Employment Empowers program at an event hosted by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Azmeena Hussain, Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, welcomed over 70 guests including employers, volunteer mentors and young people involved in the program, to hear about CMY’s new employer engagement strategy and our big vision for the future.
Employment Empowers was developed in response to the need for a better understanding of the requirements of both young, culturally diverse jobseekers and employers. In addition to working with young people experiencing barriers to finding work, Employment Empowers partners with employers who believe business can be a force for good and who are passionate about developing an inclusive and diverse workforce.
The new program is an extension of the work we have been doing over the past two years through CMY's Pathways to Employment program, with a specific focus on how we can encourage the business community to play a leadership role in supporting the settlement journeys of young refugees and migrants in Australia.
“We looked at what young people wanted, and we looked for employers who would give young people the opportunities they had never had before,” said Carmel Guerra, CMY CEO.
In launching the new Employment Empowers publication, Maurice Blackburn CEO Jacob Varghese talked about the benefits of being an employment partner, having provided opportunities to three young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to date:
“Over the past three years I have witnessed the countless benefits that these young people have experienced by being given the opportunity to be placed in meaningful employment.”“As an employer partner we are using our position to change lives but the business is also reaping many benefits. By bringing individuals in to the organisation, who have diverse backgrounds, experiences and ways of thinking, our work environment and culture has improved for the better.”
CMY’s fabulous Shout Out speaker Sherry-Rose Bih facilitated an engaging panel discussion that incorporated the perspectives of young employee Asmaa Omer, volunteer mentor Grace McCoy, and employers Michael Johnston, Founder of Momentary Film, Bao Hoang, CEO of Roll’d and CMY Board Member, and Xavier Moloney, Diversity Manager for the AFL. The panel shared their insights into how finding employment can help migrant and refugee young people forge a sense of belonging in Australia.
Asmaa, who worked closely with her mentor to prepare for interviews and develop an understanding of Australian workplaces, eventually went on to land a permanent position at IKEA. She spoke about trying to get a foot in the door, and employers always wanting someone with experience, “but how do I get experience if no one will give me any experience?”
“There are so many similar programs out there, but I had never seen results before,” Asmaa explained. “With this program, I had an interview within the first month or so. I’d never even had an interview before! I couldn’t believe it.”
Michael from Momentary has placed two young people from refugee backgrounds in internships at his film production company, and said “it’s about creating a workplace that is inclusive and accessible, and creating these kinds of opportunities for young people should be business as usual.”
In closing the event, Azmeena Hussain encouraged interested employers to contact CMY to learn more about getting involved in the Employment Empowers program.
“Fundamentally, this work is extremely life-changing, and we can never underestimate that.”
Images thanks to Mohammed Yassin