A free Victoria University course in warehousing skills is giving an employment start to refugees and migrants from around the world.
Fifteen men from Melbourne's west are the most recent graduates from the full-time seven-week course. Each is determined to use it as a stepping-stone to a better life in Australia.
The men arrived over the past year from many countries including Burma, Liberia and Ethiopia, with employment backgrounds just as diverse - and perhaps a little unexpected.
- Tesfaye Temano, 41, of St Albans performed as a Shakespearean actor in the Amharic language on the Ethiopian stage.
- Zun Nal, 40, of Hoppers Crossing, worked in a refugee camp established to assist his fellow Karen minority community in Burma.
- Augustine Borbor, 51, of North Sunshine, was a bank clerk in Liberia. Before he arrived in Australia, his life was saved by a tattoo on the back of his neck that indicated his tribal heritage to rebel forces.
- And Sang Thawng Ting Paw, 30, also of North Sunshine, worked as a carpenter in Malaysia after fleeing from western Burma, an area that has fought for self-determination for decades.
The men enrolled in the Warehousing Skills course at VU's Werribee Campus to learn about the Australian workplace and begin their search for employment in their new homeland.
Organised through VU's Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), and funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the course starts with intensive English language focused on vocabulary that participants would hear on the job. It includes information about occupational health and safety, workplace idioms, and identification of equipment and processes.
Participants spend the next week in a simulated life-size warehouse in practical training, learning to use pallet jacks and stretch strappers, reading invoices, and picking and packing orders.
The next two weeks involve a combination of language and practical training, followed by two weeks experience in a real workplace.
The final week of the course is dedicated to learning about resume-writing, job-hunting, and interview skills.
Ibrahim Diab, a course teacher, said even if participants do not continue with a career in logistics, the program helps them establish a foundation for future employment.
The next Warehousing Skills course will be held from 4 May to 19 June at VU's Werribee Campus. Participants must be AMEP-eligible, have fair English, and be over 18.
For program information or registration contact Irena Ph: (03) 9919-8239 or Luisa Ph:(03) 9919-7244.
Editors Note: Students identified in this article are available for interview.
Photos of the students are available on request.
Further information contact:
Peter Jacobson, Head of School, Industry Skills Training, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 7604; mobile: 0438 531 401.
Media Contact: Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
Marketing & Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 5487; mobile: 0403 556 001