Using lived experience to help others

Mina is a Career Project Officer at our Employment Pathways for People Seeking Asylum (EPPSA) program. The program helps people seeking asylum become job-ready for the Australian workforce.

Above: Mina (left) with EPPSA volunteer, Noura (right), who volunteers for the program twice a week.

“This service is for people who haven’t been able to get a job because of the barriers of networks, language – and sometimes mental health issues,” explains Mina.

Mina meets new clients to talk through their situation and the process of getting job ready. The people she works with have very different backgrounds, but almost all of them have experienced trauma, which means their needs are much more complex than other job seekers. “We go through what they have done before, what their barriers are, why they couldn’t find a job and what they want to do in the future,” says Mina.

“Some people who arrive are job-ready, but some people have been left behind and don’t fit anywhere.” Some just need someone to talk to, and Mina says that is fine, too. “They have been living in limbo,” she says, so building community connections through EPPSA is a positive first step.

Mina came to Australia as an asylum seeker, so she understands firsthand some of the hurdles faced by new migrants. Like the people she works with, Mina was forced to abandon her home very suddenly. “I was the top sales person in Iran. I was really successful and was making good money,” she explains. A few years ago, due to her spiritual beliefs, Mina found herself a target and in imminent danger of imprisonment. She fled her hometown, Tehran, so fast, Mina didn’t have time to say goodbye to her close friends.

She travelled to Indonesia, where she waited for weeks before experiencing a terrifying boat journey in the middle of the night to Australia. When Mina lost contact with her family in Iran that night, they thought she was dead. “When I called my mum, she was just crying,” she says.

Her experience brings a level of support that adds meaning for people traumatised by their forced migration experiences. “When they hear that I am an asylum seeker as well it brings hope into their lives.” Once a participant is job ready, Mina’s team refers them to our Given the Chance Jobs Victoria program. There, they get further assistance to find a job. Everyone’s welcome. “Come to us, and we can figure out what to do.”

Throughout her life, Dorothy Kingston actively supported the Brotherhood. She was especially interested in assisting refugees and people seeking asylum and she volunteered at our former Napier Street community playgroup, linked to new migrant communities living in Fitzroy’s Atherton Flats. Dorothy kindly left a gift to the Brotherhood in her Will. Through her generosity, we have been able to extend our EPPSA program, which helps prepare people living across Melbourne who are seeking asylum to gain employment. Giving through your Will can make an enormous difference to our programs and the people we support.

Please call our Gifts in Wills team on 03 9483 1301 to find out more.