NFPs ‘Delighted’ With $15M Funding For Asylum Seeker Training
Monday, 5th September 2016 at 8:59 am
Not for Profits have welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement to give asylum seekers “a fair go” with $15 million in funding allocated for training opportunities.
Thousands of asylum seekers and, for the first time, refugees on temporary protection visas will be given access to local education and training programs across the state following an expansion of the Asylum Seeker VET Program.
The government currently provides funding for around 300 eligible asylum seekers. But this number is set to increase tenfold over the next two years, with $15 million earmarked to open the program up to as many to 3000 asylum seekers.
The move has been welcomed by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), who said the program was of crucial importance for refugees and people seeking asylum who wish to seek employment.
RCOA acting CEO Tim O’Connor said they were “delighted” by the announcement.
“Such examples show the strong political leadership that is being provided by state governments,” O’Connor said.
“Lack of access to educational opportunities has been identified as a significant problem for many of the communities that we work with, who want to be able to find meaningful employment to support themselves and their families and to successfully integrate into their new country.
“The expansion of the VET Program will make a profound difference to thousands of people across Victoria, and we will certainly be encouraging other states to follow suit.”
Migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia said that having greater access to training would give many refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to improve their circumstances.
“We know that most refugees and asylum seekers want to study and want work and we know they want to contribute to the community,” AMES chief executive officer Cath Scarth said.
“This initiative will give many refugees and asylum seekers their first opportunity to study in Australia and the chance to improve their skills and qualifications.
“For many it will mean ultimately getting their first job in Australia or getting a better job.
“And for most, being able to study can only improve their health and wellbeing.”
Victoria is currently home to around 11,000 asylum seekers and refugees with temporary protection visas living in the community.
The VET Program offers participants professional training through TAFEs, private training providers and the Learn Local network.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) will also provide additional support and professional development to training providers working with asylum seekers and refugees.
And customised language and literacy programs will be offered to participants to improve their reading and writing skills.
Afghan asylum seeker Obaidullah Mehak, who fled his homeland after being targeted by the Taliban, said he would be eager to take up any opportunities to undertake study.
Mehak trained as a lawyer but his qualifications are not recognised in Australia.
“I would very much appreciate the opportunity to study in Australia and to improve my skills, qualifications and employability,” Mehak said.
“I want to be able to work and to contribute to this society which has given me a safe refuge.”
Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert said the training would help asylum seekers and refugees play a productive role in the Victorian workforce.
“People come here looking for a fair go – and we’ll do everything in our power to give it to them,” Herbert said.
“We’re giving 3,000 asylum seekers and refugees access to the training they need to get a proper job, to reach their ambitions and full potential so they can play a productive role in the Victorian workforce.”