Help refugees find work

More needs to be done to help new migrants and refugees find secure employment, a leading member of Shepparton’s Congolese community says.

In a letter responding to a series of News articles on Friday last week about the migrant experience , Adam Kitungano called for consultative meetings between new arrivals, businesses owners and service providers to help refugees become ‘work ready’.

Mr Kitungano was among the first Congolese to arrive in Shepparton eight years ago with his wife Judith and family of five children. A trained teacher, he arrived with little spoken English after spending nine years in Tanzanian refugee camps following civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Today, Mr Kitungano has seven children and is a science teacher at Notre Dame College. In April this year, he was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace at Shepparton Magistrates’ Court.

‘Refugees and migrants have different and/or similar stories in many regards. But always when it comes to employment opportunities their stories intersect. All of us strive for independence,’ Mr Kitungano said.

‘Without help and support of government — federal, state or local — and businesses, it is very difficult to become independent through employment.’

In last week’s supplement, Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District manager Chris Hazelman said traditionally new arrivals took the jobs the mainstream population did not want.

‘Historically it’s the first generation who get their work experience on farms and it’s the second generation who become lawyers,’ Mr Hazelman said.

Mr Kitungano said this reflected a stagnant migrant policy. ‘To maintain this argument fifty years or so after World War II demonstrates a failure by many service providers in supporting migrants and refugees,’ he said.

He said while it might be ‘traditional’ for new arrivals to take jobs unwanted by the mainstream population, changes needed to be made to move towards integration. ‘Does it have to stay like that until the second coming of Jesus Christ? New arrivals are becoming part of the mainstream population too,’ Mr Kitungano said.

‘What needs to be done here is for the mainstream population, which includes new arrivals, to look at things differently.’

‘This is not possible without constructive debate and discussions. We have to look at what is not working now and why. How should we make change in our local community now and in the future?’


Adam Kitungano is the first Congolese Justice of the Peace


Article and image courtesy Shepparton News



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