“When I first came to Wollongong I wanted to work. I applied for many jobs, but no-one was hiring. I had spent all of my adult life in a refugee camp so had never had a job before. I like Wollongong. But to get work, especially in Wollongong, is very, very difficult. I applied for lots of jobs. I don’t like sitting down idly doing nothing. But there was no job for us.”
“Green Connect found me a new job. I have been doing hard work for them and they appreciate it. It changed my life.
Now I’m feeding myself. No more Centrelink. Now I am a person who gives back. I like it very, very well. It’s a better life.”
Green Connect is a social enterprise that recovers waste, grows fair food and employs former refugees and young people. We’re based in the Illawarra, a region with one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia. The rate doubles for young people, and for refugees only 31% have a job 5 years after resettlement.
With the support of the James N. Kirby Foundation, this year we established a volunteer network of support for our staff. This network means that former refugees and young people can access personal, community-based support to address employment barriers and access opportunities. It connects them to support services in our community. It also helps combat social isolation and builds community connection.
In this context, Green Connect this year employed 114 refugees and young people, 21 of whom transitioned to mainstream employment. 96% report increased confidence and purpose, 92% report increased employability, 92% report increased financial independence and 100% report increased connection to community.
We are very grateful to the James N. Kirby Foundation for making this possible.