‘Real solution’: Refugee women can help fill Australia’s labour shortages, study shows

While the customers have returned to Daniel Dick’s Melbourne cafe, there’s a key ingredient to his successful business he’s currently struggling to source: suitable staff.
“Three years ago you’d put a job add up on a Facebook page and I would get 70-80 responses, these days I’d be lucky if I got five,” Mr Dick said.

His business is not alone and is part of a wider trend among employers emerging out of the pandemic.


New figures from the Bureau of Statistics showed that 31 per cent of employing businesses surveyed were facing difficulties finding suitable staff.

Two-thirds of large businesses, and 62 per cent of medium-sized businesses struggled, while 29 per cent of small businesses said they had no luck – their operations were more likely to be effected.

The Chamber of Commerce says in the past three months the problem has actually gotten more difficult.
But there is untapped potential in the workforce that some say could fill the shortfall.

New research from Flinders University shows refugee women in particular are being underutilised, with barriers such as qualification and skills recognition stifling opportunities.


Social scientist and associate professor at Flinders’ College of Medicine and Public Health, Anna Ziersch, says refugee women could play a vital role in filling vacancies.
“There’s a really strong desire to work, what we really need is a national refugee employment strategy that’s looking across states and nationally at where the skill shortages are how can we support the workers with the skills that they have coming in,” Ms Ziersch said.

“There is an urgent need to address the myriad systemic barriers facing women from refugee backgrounds from accessing paid work.

“These barriers prevent refugee women from being able to meaningfully and sustainably contribute to the Australian labour market and the broader community and to build a new life in Australia.


“As international migration recommences post-COVID and the race for global talent intensifies, it is essential that we do not ignore the potential contributions of women from refugee backgrounds already within Australia.”
A spokesperson for AMES, an organisation that helps new arrivals find meaningful employment, reiterated the opportunities around untapped skills available from refugee women.
“Migrants and refugees could be a real solution to this, they come to Australia with various skills experience and talent,” a spokesperson for AMES said.

“Give a migrant or a refugee a go because you’ll find that they are incredibly loyal hard working and want to contribute and put back.”

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