Image of two people at a desk with paperwork

Making it easier to employ refugees with a user-friendly guide for Australian employers.

A new guide encouraging employers to hire humanitarian migrants and those seeking asylum. 

Deakin researchers have launched a first-of-its-kind guide to help Australian employers hire refugees and asylum seekers.   

This practical, multi-beneficial, 10-page guide provides clear, concise directions on offering employment to a person from a refugee background.

This includes information on visas, how-to-employ instructions and case studies. 

Lead researcher Professor Alexander Newman, Director of the Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) at Deakin University, hopes that the guide will help employers during the hiring process. 

“We hope this guide can highlight practical steps that any Australian organisation can take to employ those recently arrived in Australia, either as humanitarian migrants or those who have sought asylum on our shores.”

Breaking down barriers  

The Guide for Employers: Supporting Access to Employment for People from a Refugee or Asylum-Seeking Background, will contribute to reducing employment exclusion and establish a more diverse, highly skilled workforce. 

The project highlights the value of hiring people from refugee backgrounds for potential employers, which could help reduce unemployment in one of Australia’s most vulnerable employment groups. 

“For many organisations, the issue of hiring refugees seems too complex given the difficulties faced in verifying qualifications and determining work rights associated with different visa categories,” Professor Newman says. 

“Many organisations assume hiring refugees is fraught with challenges and barriers, when, in fact, the large majority of people from a refugee and asylum seeker background are entitled to work in Australia.” 

The guide is currently used by over 30 community sector organisations.

Uplifting vulnerable workers 

The guide is CREATE’s flagship project. Since 2019, the Centre’s research has examined better ways to support the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into the Australian workforce. 

CREATE research draws on primary evidence and firsthand feedback, including the voices of successfully employed people from refugee backgrounds to showcase the positive impact employment has had on their lives.

One such person was Ali (a pseudonym) who fled Afghanistan and applied for protection in Australia. He remains on a bridging visa with full work rights, as his application is yet to be assessed.  

Ali says that even with his experience and University qualifications, he was never shortlisted for an interview.

Common feedback was that he had no local experience. With CREATE’s support, he was successful in gaining employment. 

“I remember that first day…everyone was so fast,” he says. “I was a bit stressed out and confused of how to learn everything.

“But thanks to CREATE’s support and help, I have learned a lot, and this makes me feel more confident.” 

In addition to providing important information about work rights and visa requirements, the guide is supported by CREATE’s extensive repository of activities.

These target both organisations and employees, allowing for a more streamlined, inclusive onboarding process. 

A successful solution for Australian employers 

Evidence shows employees from a refugee background are loyal, remaining with their employers longer than the general population. 

“Research suggests that more diverse workplaces typically have higher levels of innovation, productivity and staff retention,’ says Professor Newman, “and people with a refugee background often bring new ideas and perspectives into the organisation. 

“Ultimately, helping people from these groups to integrate into the workplace and supporting them to re-establish their livelihood builds a strong community, locally and internationally.”

Collaborating with Deakin Researchers are The Uniting Asylum Seeker Program, Career Seekers and The Salvation Army Asylum Seeker Services. Funding for the project was secured from the Australia Research Council. 

Discover the Guide for Employers: Supporting Access to Employment for People from a Refugee or Asylum-Seeking Background.

Alexander “Alex” Newman is a Professor of Management in the Department of Management in Deakin Business School, and the Associate Dean (International) for the Faculty of Business and Law. 

Are you a Deakin academic with a passion to share your research? You may be interested in writing for us.

Find out more