Leading asylum-seekers down the garden path

Sabrina Hahn has been working with MercyCare to give asylum-seekers vital work experience (The eRecord/MercyCare)

Master gardener Sabrina Hahn is encouraging Perth business owners to get involved in a MercyCare program that gives asylum-seekers vital experience in the Australian workforce. Source: The eRecord.

Ms Hahn has been giving gardening advice to West Australians for the past 25 years.

She runs her own gardening, landscaping and horticultural business called “Hort with Heart”, which took on Afghan-born asylum-seeker Nouman (not his real name) last year.

Nouman was introduced to the Hort with Heart team in September through MercyCare’s Asylum-Seeker Work Placement program, fully funded by the agency.

The 23-year-old, who came to Australia as a teenager in 2013 without any family members, is currently awaiting the outcome of his application.

Last year, Nouman needed to find work to support himself. While he was eager to find employment, his lack of education and network of local contacts proved to be significant barriers. He had some experience working on his family’s farm in Afghanistan. Today, he is a full-time contractor with Hort with Heart.

Ms Hahn said bringing Nouman into her team was the best decision she made.

“Nouman has now made it possible for me to take on other jobs that I normally wouldn’t be able to do, he’s a real asset to our business and an absolutely wonderful worker,” she said.

“He always turns up for work early, he shows great initiative and there’s nothing I’ve asked of Nouman that he hasn’t taken on with a 100 per cent gusto.

Nouman says he has been enjoying being able to work and making the most of all the opportunities he has had to learn new skills.

“Working just helps the mind to feel good – I feel good at knowing what I can achieve and contribute to the community.”

Nouman is just one of a number of asylum-seekers MercyCare has connected with local businesses to give them experience in the Australian workforce.

MercyCare’s Complementary Services Project Lead Teri O’Toole said providing experience in an Australian workplace was important to this group of people as it helps them improve their English, get an understanding of workplace expectations, improve skills and broaden their networks – all of which are vital in helping them to get a meaningful paid role.


Asylum seekers earn work experience through MercyCare (The eRecord)

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