Dialog Box

13 March 2019

Job Readiness program success

It can be difficult to find a job. Many of us will know the struggle.

Putting together a resume, writing a cover letter, finding the right places to search, applying for jobs and then attending interviews can all be a nightmare.

But imagine if you had to do all this with a limited ability to speak or write in English?

The Job Readiness program

For the past five years, David Hannan has been working at CatholicCare’s Dandenong office to support newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers in their search for work or further education.

David works with refugees and asylum seekers on a one-to-one basis. He sits down with them and listens to their aspirations; works collaboratively with them to make resumes and cover letters; helps them to apply for jobs; and can accompany them to interviews or meetings.

David also facilitates workshops on Australian workplace safety and culture, so that the job seekers are informed on important issues and know their rights in the workplace.

The support David is providing through the Job Readiness program is intangible, and it is having outstanding results.

Above: David Hannan running a workshop for refugees in the Job Readiness program.

What’s different about the program?

CatholicCare’s Job Readiness program provides a level of support that is hard to come by - the one-to-one intensive nature of the work is something that isn’t readily available elsewhere.

It’s also part of a wrap-around service, where clients have access to English language classes, support for citizenship applications, and other social education programs and individual support to help them integrate successfully into the Australian community.

They form that initial relationship with staff like David, and it leads not only to the support they were looking for, but also to new connections and friendships. They discover a network of people who advocate for them, and who truly care about their wellbeing and that of their families.

This all sounds great, but does it really work?

The short answer is yes. And the proof is in the pudding.

Over the past ten months, 50 clients have come through the Job Readiness program. So far 26 of them are in employment – that’s more than a 50% success rate.

What’s more is that, of those who don’t yet have a job, some have been supported to find suitable tertiary education and scholarships to get them there. While we can’t promise that the 24 other clients will find employment in the next two months, we’re providing them with the support and knowledge which is putting them on the path to success.

Clients who enter the program have reported feeling more confident, and we can see it with our own eyes too. They improve on their English language skills, form greater social connectedness, and come to understand important workplace topics and culture to help them with their future in Australia. Furthermore they feel a sense of relief that the support they are receiving will enable them to support their family – particularly for those who have found employment.

Here’s one example of the people David has helped.

Jane, single mother of four.

Being a single mother is difficult enough. But being a single mother of four TEENAGE children – well, that’s a handful.

Jane was born in Sudan and came to Australia with the support of her sister, who was already in the country.

She had spent some time living in a refugee camp and arrived with no English language skills. The little support she received from Centrelink and her sister meant that she struggled financially – bills were difficult to pay and the books, uniforms and school fees for her children were pricey.

She didn’t want to stay home; she felt great sadness, and it meant she couldn’t provide for her children. But with no job, no car (or driving licence), and no community to support her, the options were limited.

That was until she came into contact with CatholicCare. 

Jane joined the English Conversation program at CatholicCare’s Dandenong office, and was the only non-Afghan woman in her class - yet she stuck to it and can now speak near-fluent English. Soon after starting the English classes Jane indicated that she was looking for work, and then she was introduced to David.

With David’s help, Jane found volunteering work at a hospital which not only got her out of the house, but it also increased her confidence, gave her work experience and enabled her to develop contacts and networks. 

Through CatholicCare’s partnership with St John of God Health Care, an opportunity then arose for Jane to start work as a cleaner. David drove Jane to the job interview, and a few days later she received a call saying she got the job.

David helped her with all of the required paperwork to accept the role, and in January 2018 she began her first paid Australian work. ‘If David didn’t help, maybe I wouldn’t have a job now,’ said Jane.

The support she received has made such a big difference to her and her children. Now she has an income to provide for her family, and she has more social connections and interaction in her life. She also feels comfortable talking to her supervisor and her confidence levels continue to increase. 

David also helped Jane by delivering food and emergency relief vouchers to her house before she was making enough earnings to comfortably provide for her family, and he linked her into CatholicCare’s driving program for refugees. It was here where Jane learnt to drive and finally obtained her driving licence – which has now enabled her to get out and about and take her kids to school.

So what’s next for Jane? Citizenship is her next goal. And David will be there by her side to support her in the process.

Acknowledgments: CatholicCare would like to thank the Noel and Carmel O’Brien Foundation for their support of the Job Readiness Program.


An update on the Job Readiness Program 

As at 30 June 2019: 

  • A total of 53 clients had been supported (exceeding the annual target by 6%).
  • Of the 53 clients, 33 had secured employment and two commenced fulltime study (exceeding the target by 16%).
  • Positive anecdotal feedback was received from clients regarding their confidence and overall wellbeing.
  • Four information sessions were delivered to 23 participants.
  • Successful relationships were established/maintained with employers, recruitment agencies and other similar organisations including: Hoban Recruitment, Excel and Symmetry recruitment agencies, St John of God, Spotless Dry Cleaning, and Chisholm TAFE.


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