atWork Australia

jobactive | Disability Employment Services | NDIS | atWork Australia

The challenges of being a refugee in a new country are probably not what you think they are

According to the Refugee Council of Australia in 2023, Australia welcomed the fifth largest number of refugees, who now call Australia home. Every year, 20th June marks World Refugee Day, which is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe.  The focus is to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have had to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution[i].

It would be easy to think that once a person has escaped the dangers of their home country and found asylum, that life and opportunities would continuously improve. However, settling into a new country comes with its own array of challenges, such as finding affordable accommodation, language and communication barriers as well as financial difficulties just to name a few. Additionally, coming from a country with different laws, cultural norms and education systems can make it incredibly difficult to secure employment and fit into day-to-day life.

For atWork Australia client, Dhaqane, he fled his home country of Somalia in 1998 with his father. Dhaqane spent the first year in Australia living with his father and stepmother. Due to a toxic relationship with his stepmother, at the age of 14 Dhaqane was forced to leave the family home. A young boy in a new country, he did not speak English, he had limited education and he was now homeless with all hopes of a better life quickly drifting away. “It was a scary time for me, I used to sleep at the school park. I had no friends, I could not ask anyone for help as no one spoke my language,” said Dhaqane.

Most of us could never imagine the fear and horrific situation Dhaqane was living in. Just fourteen years old, homeless and not being able to communicate to ask for help. Unfortunately, his situation was not about to improve, this was the beginning of a long 20 years on the streets. Dhaqane continued, “After 6 months I was kicked out of school. I spent most of my time living on the streets in the city. I had to beg and ask people for food.”

Alarmingly, Dhaqane’s story is not too dissimilar to other refugees, a recent survey conducted by Jesuit Refugee Services Australia indicated that 55% of respondents had experienced some form of homelessness since arriving in Australia[ii]. “I think the language barrier is part of the reason why refugees find themselves homeless. I always wanted to go to school, I just could not communicate with anyone. If I had support to overcome my language barriers, my life could have been completely different,” said Dhaqane.

Dhaqane advised that his struggles to get off the streets were significantly harder as he did not have any identification which prevented him from accessing various support services. Eventually, he started taking small steps towards improving his life. Dhaqane connected with leading employment services provider, atWork Australia, to find employment. Dhaqane said, “atWork Australia have done a lot for me over the years. When I first came to atWork Australia I was in a rough place, I could not handle the streets anymore and I was drinking too much. They supported me to get counselling and I have never gone back to drinking.”

Over the past few years with the support of local homeless shelters, Dhaqane has managed to secure stable accommodation. With the support of atWork Australia, Dhaqane is currently studying English and is focused on progressing towards employment.

This World Refugee Day, take a minute to reflect and acknowledge the strength and courage displayed by refugees around the world as they attempt to create a better life for themselves and their families. It is also a time to try to understand the challenges they face continue long after they have settled in their new home. atWork Australia works with clients in a multitude of ways.  This is done by offering tailored support that can help an individual overcome their barriers as well as through practical and financial guidance to receive the right training or education that will build skills to lead to sustainable employment.





  Chat with us
Navigation Menu