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Nothing makes Esther* happier than making clothes for others. The 32-year-old asylum-seeker from Papua New Guinea is a participant in Mercy Works’ partnership with the Romero Centre in Brisbane, which has so far helped 37 people gain employment since last July.

The Gateways to Employment for People Seeking Asylum project supports asylum-seekers from over 40 cultural groups, with a particular focus on women, to gain work experience and employment and to address the barriers they face from a lack of English language skills, resources and networks. 

Pathways to employment are strengthened by linking participants to employers within Mercy Partners and business association networks.

In October, Esther approached the Romero Centre, a work of the Sisters of Mercy that provides case coordination services for asylum-seekers. With the help of the centre, Esther was able to apply for a protection visa and was granted a bridging visa with work rights.

It was during this three-month process Esther engaged in several workshops under the Mercy Works partnership program and she decided to focus on what she loves to do: Sewing. 

Once her work rights arrived, she applied for five tailoring jobs and was invited to two job interviews, ultimately receiving a job offer as a commercial tailor.

“With her skills, passion and help of Romero Centre staff, she started her dream job not even three weeks from the day she was granted work permission to work in Australia,” says Misha Emingerova, a case worker at Romero. 

With a regular income, Esther will now be able to continue her settlement in Australia and support her family back home financially.

*Not her real name.


Best Foot Forward (Mercy Works)