People are the single most important factor for an innovative economy. As Prime Minister Turnbull said recently, “Our greatest asset is not the rocks under the ground but it’s the people that walk on top”. Knowledge and skills circulating through a network of people builds to a critical mass where innovation can prosper. Silicon Valley didn’t pop up overnight, it took 60 years to build. People were and continue to be the essential component. Immigration is not the first thing that springs to mind when considering innovation policy.
The effect of migration on productivity is complex. On the one hand, productivity receives a boost because migrants are concentrated in the prime working age group and are relatively highly educated. Moreover, they are more likely to participate in the workforce and have higher levels of personal productivity.
Employment is a crucial step in the process of settling in Australia. Through work, refugees become self-reliant and empowered to build a future for themselves and their families. Hence, the Migration Council of Australia in collaboration with Friendly Nation Initiative and TENT have produced this Australian Guide to Hiring Refugees.
Since the end of the Second World War, Australia has welcomed more than 840,000 people from around the world fleeing war, conflict, and persecution.
Australia has consistently ranked among the top three permanent resettlement countries, playing a crucial role in international efforts to provide protection and offer people the opportunity to rebuild their lives and make a positive contribution to the country.
Australia has benefited immeasurably from the contributions of people who arrived as refugees, across all aspects of society: business (Frank Lowy, Richard Pratt, Tan Le, Huy Truong), the arts (Ahn Do, Judy Cassab, Henry Szeps), science (Sir Gustav Nossal, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki), sport (Majak Daw, Les Murray) medicine (Dr Munjed Al Muderis), and the law (James Spigelman, Deng Thiak Adut),2 to give a few examples.In the year 2000, five of Australia’s eight billionaires were people whose families had originally come to the country as refugees.
The Australian Employers’ Guide to Hiring Refugees is a practical toolkit intended to help employers who are interested in hiring refugees but don’t know where to start. To ensure that it would be both actionable and pragmatic, employers who have already welcomed refugees into their workforce made a significant contribution to its development. The guide contains essential information about the logistics and practicality of hiring refugees in Australia and guidance on how to design and implement refugee employment programs to be maximally successful for employers and refugees alike.
COMMITTING TO HIRING REFUGEES
Companies can show leadership, meet their responsibility to be good corporate citizens and send an important message by making a public commitment to proactively include refugee employees in their workforce. Some organisations have established refugee employment programs to find and encourage people from a refugee background to apply. There are no legal barriers (in Commonwealth or State anti-discrimination laws) to providing employment opportunities to refugees in this way.