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Banks Join NFP Job Programs to Help Refugees

6 April 2017 at 3:00 pm
Lina Caneva
Two major Australian banks are pushing their social responsibility activities into assisting refugees into work – and while one is celebrating a long-term partnership, another is just setting out.

Lina Caneva | 6 April 2017 at 3:00 pm


Banks Join NFP Job Programs to Help Refugees
6 April 2017 at 3:00 pm

Two major Australian banks are pushing their social responsibility activities into assisting refugees into work –  and while one is celebrating a long-term partnership, another is just setting out.

Welfare not for profit the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ are celebrating a 10-year partnership which has supported 170 people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds into paid job placements at ANZ.

Brotherhood executive director Tony Nicholson said the Given the Chance [program] was one of the organisation’s longest-running and most effective employment programs, and the 10-year partnership with ANZ had yielded “outstanding results”.

“Almost all of those who have done work placements have gone on to gain employment at the bank,” Nicholson said.

“Ongoing employment has not only provided them with economic security, but has allowed them to overcome a major hurdle in settling into life in a new country, so different to the places from which they have come.”

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said the bank recognised the quality of the participants and how they thrived when given the opportunity.

“Since becoming CEO, I’ve visited many branches and, on being introduced to our best performing customer service staff, I noticed something consistent – many of these people were new to Australia and were part of the Given the Chance program. These people are doing terrific work and are proud to work at ANZ, and we’re proud to have them,” Elliott said.

“It’s important for ANZ to build a workplace that reflects the diversity of our customers and the communities we operate in. It’s all part of our commitment to understanding our customers and their needs better than anyone else.”

At the recent Migration and Settlement Awards, run by the Migration Council Australia, ANZ took out the business inclusion award for the Given the Chance program.

Meanwhile, a new partnership between NAB and the Wise Foundation is providing professional training for people seeking asylum.

The charity’s Wise Barista Program provides professional training for people seeking asylum and who are facing barriers to employment. Program participants work for a fixed six-month period during which time they gain employment experience within Australia.

Customers share a “socially conscious coffee” while they explore the bank’s financial products and services at NAB’s newest branch in central Sydney.

NAB executive general manager of retail Bob Melrose said the program was an exciting inclusion at the new branch.

“One of the unique elements we have factored into the branch design is the ability to pilot new products and services,” Melrose said.

“This is the first time we’ve had a cafe inside one of our branches, and our thinking was: ‘How can we make the most of this opportunity? How can we make this a good thing for both our customers and the community?’

“We’re excited to have our first two baristas on board working as part of the NAB team. They are not only on a career path into the hospitality industry, but they’re also interacting with our customers, offering a friendly smile as well as a free coffee.”

Wise Foundation general manager Mandy Glassey said it was great to see NAB embrace the cause.

“This initiative is aimed at training individuals facing barriers to employment to become baristas,” Glassey said.

“Working with our recruitment partners, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre [in Melbourne] and the Asylum Seekers Centre [in Sydney], we are providing training and experience and a pathway to enable rapid acceptance into the hospitality industry.

“The Wise Barista Program has potential to provide a widely accepted platform into a growing employment area.”

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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