Work and Welcome program opens doors for refugees

St Joseph’s College Toowoomba teacher librarian Kirstie Andrews (left) and Shaza Alsahwi (Toowoomba Catholic Schools)

Toowoomba Catholic Schools will mark Sunday’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees by celebrating its involvement in a national employment program that provides refugees and migrants with paid work experience.

Toowoomba Catholic Schools encourages its staff to donate to the “Work and Welcome” program, established by Multicultural Australia, as it provides employment opportunities for refugees and migrants in schools and its office.

The regular donations made to this program have enabled refugees to be welcomed into Toowoomba Catholic school communities for 10 weeks of work experience in areas including administration, assisting student learning, cleaner, catering and groundskeeping.

Shaza Alsahwi was recently employed by St Joseph's College and worked as a school officer assisting student learning and in the college library.

Ms Alsahwi comes from Syria, where she was a primary school teacher for 25 years.

“Before the war, Syria was a wonderful country; but after the war, we lost everything, our houses, our jobs, and our cars,” Ms Alsahwi said.

“I was also kidnapped for seven days in the countryside which has left a mark on my heart - knowing you can’t feel safe in your own country.”

Ms Alsahwi fled to Iraq and after three years arrived in Australia as a refugee in December 2021.

She has been warmly welcomed into the St Joseph’s college community.

St Joseph’s assistant principal of religion Kellie-Marie Ford said the Work and Welcome program “allows staff to see the real impact of their donations to the program, while also offering refugees and migrants the opportunity to experience life in our schools, to become part of our community and gain valuable work experience for future employment.”


Work & Welcome program opens doors for refugees (Toowoomba Catholic Schools)

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