Page 1640 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013

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$18,000 annually; and they must possess a current learners licence, which can be obtained through the Multicultural Youth Services’ road ready course. Participants will pay a $30 fee for a lesson rather than the commercial rate, which is well above that and certainly well above what they could afford.

At the launch I spoke with some of the young men and women who will be involved in the program and they told me just how hard it was to even get an interview for jobs without having an ACT drivers licence. They saw this program as a tremendous opportunity to improve their skills and to learn something that most of us take for granted.

I will monitor the operation of the program and look at how we can continue to support such a program into the future.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke?

DR BOURKE: How else is the ACT government supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the community to obtain employment and overcome cultural barriers?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. The ACT government has a number of programs to improve access to employment and overcome cultural barriers. One is the interpreter training for emerging language groups. Recently four members of the Sudanese community completed interpreter training through the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. This has a double benefit by providing much-needed interpreting services as well as employment opportunities for community members.

White Nile catering is another example. This fledgling local company is owned by five Sudanese women who have put their culinary skills to work in developing a catering business. The women of White Nile arrived in Australia as refugees from Sudan and they are working together to share their skills and to build their business as part of their journey in creating a new life in Australia. White Nile catering has been assisted in their social enterprise by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, who are making available a commercial kitchen at the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre.

One of our most popular programs that supports refugees and asylum seekers is the work experience support program. WESP is designed to help Canberrans from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to enter the workforce by providing an opportunity to improve skills and competence. The latest group of 18 participants graduated last month.

Another new program is the collaborative fashion design work experience program. This program is seeing fashion-loving and skilled seamstresses from the local refugee and migrant communities working alongside members of the broader Canberra community in dedicated no-sweat fashion studios at the University of Canberra High School Kaleen. The program involves 36 weeks of mini-projects, led by a skilled facilitator, and will operate for two days a week. As the project progresses, participants will develop and produce samples for a unique and commercial-quality fashion collection. (Time expired.)

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