Joseph is the first refugee employee at ANZ Maroochydore. (L-R) Peter Folley, Joseph and Vicki Clark.
Joseph is the first refugee employee at ANZ Maroochydore. (L-R) Peter Folley, Joseph and Vicki Clark. Nicola Brander

Refugee rapt about job opportunity in banking

THIS is a story that will smash stereotypes.

All refugees are lazy terrorists.

All banks are greedy and heartless.

That sort of thing.

A program called Given The Chance has come to the Sunshine Coast, a partner-ship between ANZ and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to place refugees into jobs and possibly bank careers.

It was made official last week when ANZ Banking Group, Access Community Services and multicultural affairs minister Glen Elmes signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Maroochydore.

Official signatures on documents aside, it means a man from Egypt named Joseph will have six months of casual, paid work at ANZ after almost two years in Australia.

It means he can provide for his wife and eight-month-old son, and forge a life for his family in Maroochydore.

"I feel great because I knock every door to searching about a job," Joseph, who has been learning English, said.

"Even the Australian people say 'we can't even find opportunities for jobs especially on the Sunshine Coast, it's so hard'," he said.

"So I try to keep going everywhere until I find this opportunity - it means too much to me...respectable for myself and for my family.

"It is not just work, it gives us good emotionally to involve in the community, to experience our love for the community.

"They accept us and they welcome us, so we would like to share with them and help this community (in return).

"In our culture, work is important."

Joseph graduated with qualifications as a librarian and information finance technician.

Since he has been on the Sunshine Coast, he has volunteered at Nambour Library, the Festuri multicultural festival and Nambour Community Centre.

ANZ district manager retail banking Vicki Clark interviewed five refugees a week ago, before giving the job on offer to Joseph.

"ANZ's social inclusion policy makes you proud to be part of this organisation," Ms Clark said.

"It was so humbling. These people really want to make a contribution to the community, all they want is to be given a chance.

"They are so thankful for an opportunity to engage in an Australian work culture and learn some skills to help them."

ANZ's traineeships manager David Brown said the program, which has been offered in other parts of the country, had an 86% completion rate with more than 80% of participants securing full-time roles in the bank.

A solid network of support, including mentors, buddies and training for branch managers, had driven success, Mr Brown said.

"The main thing is to give people a go," he said.

"It is open to refugees or asylum seekers, provided they've got the legal right to work.

"Often we are dealing with highly skilled, educated people but they haven't had the opportunity to experience the Australian workplace culture."

Mr Brown said applicants had come from countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Iran.

"Humbled is certainly a very common experience when you come face to face with these people and their stories, and their amazing, continuing positive outlook.

"To look at our lives and our First World problems and think 'here's a bit of perspective for us'."


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