What started as a call out for staff to mentor newly arrived Queenslanders has evolved into a staff-led initiative that now funds the salary of some of our Work and Welcome (W&W) graduates.
Ten years ago, the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) opened its doors to our community as a Host Partner in our W&W program, where select clients from refugee backgrounds were able to get valuable training and career mentorship.
W&W prepares our clients for paid employment in Australia – the first paid work opportunity for many participations. More than that, it creates pathways for them to pursue meaningful work aligned with their own career aspirations.
Rod Olsen, Head of Senior School at Churchie, recently told Multicultural Australia that their school community saw a space where they can “help provide an opportunity for a skilled refugee to gain the experience and skills required to get work in Australia.”
“The idea was put to our staff that if they would like to be involved, which was entirely voluntary, they can make a donation, whatever people felt that they could contribute into a fund. That pays the employee from Work and Welcome”, he said.
Mr Olsen said the success of the program extends beyond the Churchie community. Some of the W&W graduates who had worked there later gained fulltime employment in the areas of accountancy and IT in other organisations. But, he thinks the school has comparatively gained much more from the partnership.
“We’re a boys’ school with teenage boys aged between 12 years to 18 years old. Students have been fascinated by listening and hearing those stories and understanding more about some of the reasons why people are making Australia their home.”
“We find the education that [the W&W graduates] can provide – in terms of the social, family, and compassionate aspects – have been very good in helping to educate our students.”