All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Burmese)

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 9:

Those who have the kindness of benefit for others

For the sake of living beings, do not relax their powers.

Though these holy beings bear a heavy burden,

They never put it down and dwell in discouragement.

*the Great Chariot Sutra*

Burma is known as a golden land made of several ranges (or ‘Yoma’ in Burmese) where thousands of tribal memories, wisdoms, religions, cultures and beauties of plants and animals dwell. The rivers, all of them are indeed important to the people and other existences, snake through these beautiful mountainous regions and flow from the north to the south where Indian Ocean is. The peoples, Burma has 103 ethnics, all of them used to be really generous and all they knew was to give.

Since the modern day’s dictators have systematically destroyed, now the golden land is famous for its narcotic trades, refugees, migrant workers and various atrocities and sufferings.

One day, we’ll be free again and the land will be again famous for its beauty.

Refugee and Migrant Help Program Needed

Starting a new life from ground zero is not easy. It’s a mammoth task to be done with nothing in hand to start with. It’s like a super hero in action in a mission impossible. Most of the refugees came into Australia generally brought nothing with them more than a bag of clothes and maybe a few books. They might brought a load of hope with them too, especially those who were informed to do so. Someone would take care of them as a start but everything could go wrong after that. There they have ended up in various conditions, evidently, in undesirable states – especially with Centrelink.

The main problem is the lack of information that those refugees were not well informed about how to continue in Australian life. The newcomers with a big expectation can misinterpret the situation and fail to foresee their future. If there is nothing to start with, then they will have nothing – especially the ones who are single and have no relatives or family.

I think many migrants don’t get enough support to understand how to start life in Australia. Can be worse than that if the communities they belong to are insignificant to absorb them and give them jobs or necessary trainings and continuing in-kind supports. Even if there is certain support group to help them, both social workers and the migrants might not get through each others’ ideas, due to misinformation and misunderstanding – for being short of experience and expertise about the unsuccessful lives. Small communities cannot have the social workers of their own with all information and resources to deal with all those in need.

Maybe there was information but it’s not possible that words on the leaflets alone would change their delusion in a short time – like washing the wounds with holy water. English for Second Language programs are not the Australian information for Second Life that reveals all veiled realities of life in Australia.

Certainly most migrants get onto the right paths all by themselves or by the information etc available to them within their community. Education levels, contacts, aids, personal contribution such as social skill and trade skill, and age for being young enough to start education here are some of the factors for individual migrants to make their lives easier sooner. However, many refugees came from refugee camps where they lived a deprived lifestyle away from education and normal working life; and the best of their time might have been wasted just there.

It’s almost impossible for some individuals to find their own way. Consider all factors affecting a migrant: language, accommodation, social skill, family support (if they came in with a whole or some family members), Australian culture, expectation of educational institutes, expectation of employers, etc – that’s a list of a few points.

If these migrants have to compete in job market, it’s just not a fair go I guess. Unless they are absorbed into their community, they will not make it. Certainly not every one of them will be employed by their respective communities. Most of them don’t even know what kinds of job and education are available for them. It’s also almost impossible for some to know what they can do at all. As long as the necessary guidance is not available, everyone will guess in vain in struggling life that doesn’t give them a chance (or education) to stop and think for a while. 

Instead of relying on volunteers, the federal governments better have an official program that has systematic approaches. Volunteers are good but they might not possess all professional levels with necessary expertises. And they must also have the capacity such as manpower, the right venue, and sufficient resources. They can’t have necessary condition to deal with both governmental organizations and the individuals who need help – for example, the way Centrelink does.

I think the current conditions do not allow all communities to get equal funding and grants and a good share of helps. The federal government should take care of the matter, by establishing an organization to deal with all migrants, with the same capacity for everyone. Maybe Centrelink has a special branch for refugees and migrants; then it needs to do just that.

I know there are good counsellors everywhere; but with my limited information, I think they are for the purposes other than dealing with refugee and migrants with special capacity.

Obviously the main setback for the migrants is not having the right settlement – i.e. housing, education, skills to get a job.  The volunteer social organizations can never have all the capacity unless the federal government has its own organization with systematic approach and research (or study) – the more systematic the better.

In my view, it will be good if the federal government make compulsory to the new migrants to have a course in trade or training, for educational levels they have.

ESL is a great program. But it doesn’t give all information to start a life in Australia. Also that 510 hours training is too short. Sure there are other English programs for migrants yet there must be a support group that keeps informing them these are programs for them. And they should know whatever other things they can do. I don’t know if there is such a support program available out there. Every migrant should be kept contacted for such information and career counselling. Not everyone will fit in the same box though. But at least, they get information and someone to ask to and consult with. But I guess it won’t be too costly or more expensive than not doing enough for them. I believe all newcomers should be informed and guided for a long time.

It can be group activity that encourages the migrants and refugees to attain the required training for skill and language or find out what they want to do and can do. It can be the counsellors meeting individuals with special conditions. I know no government can guarantee everyone to get a job. But the governments can give them skills, support for becoming ready to work and incentive for settling just anywhere in Australia if there is a job, if they want to do it. If they have skills, they will do it as the reason for choosing a skill is just to use it. Or if they have different ideas, other than whatever available from the government, they should be considered for these ideas too.

I believe the migrants should be given information about trades or skills good for a start and they should also be located to the places for their chosen jobs. Many migrants could be very upset if they’re given the information about impossible tasks. By given skills, generally labour or process works, and if that’s the possibility to go for a better career later, apprenticeship for example, most migrants will be satisfied. It’s not right in forcing them queue for the government support and searching for a niche they don’t know, for years. Labour works or process works, there is a demand for physical condition, psychological condition and general skills. 

Also the information must be precise and down to earth approach but must not be for fantasy that only portrays the good side of reality of the subject. For example, most artists have reliable job for living and they fund themselves to do their art. There is too much delusion among refugees who never dreamed of living in a great country like Australia but they must not forget everyone has to work to have a good life and money to do what they want. Dream bubbles should not be created and busted later. Unless they have the necessary information, skills and education, they can have the wrong path and expectation.

However, I don’t believe everyone can have the same capacity for doing labour works, certain level of intellectual work, due to health, age and strength; no matter how they look, some can be physically weak. Some can even have psychological problem. Also there should be an official program that encourages the migrants to keep developing their skills, their expectation and the courage to face reality.

I believe there should be an authority specialising in the necessary skills and experience about the refugees and migrants. And this authority will have the capacity to inform, to give the guidance and to train the migrants with required skills which are not needed by general Australians. Taking the migrants and refugees into Australia is great and a very generous humanitarian effort. Yet, efficient effort is required for long term good. Instead of sending migrants to Centrelink, education is a better choice to make them productive sooner than later. Being productive, lives of the newcomers will be good too. That means the government will get its investments back and sooner although probably not 100 per cent back.

In summary, there should be:
·         Information support – booklets, magazine, website where refugees and migrants are allowed to write or post opinion
·         Compulsory training for a trade or education that can lead to a working life
·         Support for relocation for jobs or study
·         Ongoing contact and consultation by the authority responsible for migrants and refugee welfare.
As systematic approach, the phases I can imagine of are:
1.      Getting education – migrants are given general and through information about trades etc and allowed to choose; e.g. computing, accounting, drafting, sale, food processing, assembly jobs, cabinet making, upholstery. This is about choosing job types realistically. Information should be only within the scope of real employment – not any other scenario.
2.      Getting into trainings and becoming qualified and getting the job within qualified field.
3.      Being able to stick with the job. The government should help them if relocation is necessary.
4.      The participation and integration into the general society, not just into the selected community. This phase should lead everyone toward citizenship depending on their involvement. However, it must not be the end if the participation and integration are poor. There should be ongoing training and opportunity. Even after citizenship is achieved, there should be compulsory involvement in certain social education for becoming better citizens by building up information and understanding about geographical, social and political conditions of current and future Australia. This is about automatic citizenship whether it is to be paid by the migrants, unless there is another reason.
5.      Higher education and career path – just current existing system. Some people will like to study either for better opportunity, or changing career, or just for any other reason.

I think phase 2 and phase 5 are similar. When the study ends, there should be general support toward a career they qualified for. Certainly not everyone will need all these phases. Some will stay with phase 4 for life. Yet all migrants should be contacted for as long as they want to be after the compulsory phases are over. Some of them will need continuity of support.

Certainly the government will be the sole funding source for such system. However, those with a permanent job for a year can pay for their involvement with some concession. These activities can be TAFE level educations.

If the federal government setting up such approach, there will be:  more jobs for those in teaching careers, hope, confidence and reasonable life conditions for newcomers, and the benefit for the general public.

I believe most migrants who come here do want to develop their opportunity and improve their lives. I believe it’s not right to keep them isolated, confused, idle and lost. Before they develop fear and hesitation, they can be placed in various training programs suitable for them by letting them know paths, choice and future possibility of shifting toward what they want to do with the regular income they have. Instead of such a happy way of earning, making them queue for government handout is rather a short-sighted approach. Although unemployment is inevitable and workers from all sectors can expect that, it will be good for the migrants and refugees to have a trade skill and confidence. And whenever there is a demand, they can be employed – systematically. To achieve such systematic goal setting, they need leadership as they cannot do it all by themselves. I believe such a kick start and systematic support, life will be easier.

If the government cannot do much, then let it be. However, 

Giving efficient support to every migrant, depends on individual needs, I believe it will be win-win investment. Now the government spends a lot too but I think not systematic enough and causing lose-lose investment for both sides. I think it’s just not right to live in speculation and failure. The commitment of the federal government should not be short coming. Especially guidance for finding a path in life and Australian skills and ideas are absolutely necessary. I believe it will be very good if the federal government take the responsibility. By giving the right paths, they will be able to walk on the right paths.

Additionally I think it’s appropriate to mention about some current issues that are concerned to the Centrelink and its clients. At the moment there aren’t too many jobs advertised. That assures not everyone who lives on the dole can find enough jobs to fill into the fortnight form. But they will fill the form somehow, just doing a task required for the payment. They might send resumes everywhere although they’re not qualified for or have no idea what these jobs are about. That will lead to causing extra burden to the consultants who only want genuine job-seekers. Also that can cause reputation problem for the job-seekers. This problem is not only for those who lack qualifications but for students who’ve just finished their study and looking for job sincerely.

If they fear of such reputation problem, they will not send their resumes although they have to fill the fortnight form, and they will fill in the form just to get the regular income. Qualification actually doesn’t guarantee a job or a suitable position for the qualification. I don’t know how many students are out there applying for a same position they found on job searching sites. If there is a job per a hundred students, 99 will not get it. As there aren’t enough jobs advertised for entry level or for students, those who were not chosen by a particular employer certainly have to wait for their turn. As there aren’t enough jobs from a particular sector (e.g. architecture), those students have to fill their forms with the jobs that ask the levels they don’t qualify at all. If that is what the system is all about, and if that’s the only condition the system can support, I think the consultants (and employers) shouldn’t complain; but if they have to do just that for the burden they are facing, then they should complain against the system but not what those students (and job seekers) do.

I think we rather applaud those job seekers for doing the impossible tasks. When job seekers did get a job, they do smile though!

I’m trying to see the wider picture. There are reasons why job seekers do not get jobs. Lacking skill for existing jobs is one particular reason. It’s not possible to solve all problems but skill, motivation and self-confidence. Skill, motivation and self-confidence are interconnected and support one another. And I believe it’s the main problem of unemployment. To tackle this problem, programs that tackle skill shortage are necessary. There are plenty of training packages available from various organizations but these organizations might not locate within affordable distances for New Start allowances. Also making guesses individually cannot make any job seeker wiser although they can get experiences which are usually not good for motivation but pressure from an apathetic system. 

It’s not easy even if possible for everyone to possess a skill set required for a particular job. It’s not possible for any institution to teach students for all skills they will need in real life. But as parts of a sympathetic system, the organizations can now give different skill sets to different job seekers – even if it’s a program like “work-for-the-dole”. It has to be not about wasting the time of everyone in the system but to get the positive outcomes.

In reality, the system is clearly irresponsive to ever changing circumstances. As though the system regards all job seekers are qualified for all types of job or any job that shows up on job searching sites and at the same time, it doesn’t see anyone qualified for serious jobs either. In reality, there are different levels of skill lacking. To make sure, the system can test all job seekers and determine their skill levels and let them apply for the jobs they are qualified for and also give an opportunity to those who need particular skills and improve their chance of employment, perhaps in any type of works suitable for them. Then the system will become responsive. If the government employs more individuals for Centrelink, or give a little more responsibility to existing staffs, it can be good too.

Centrelink should now see the job seekers from the employers’ points of view. When a job seeker applies for a job, Centrelink can check how the job seekers are qualified for that job. Then it won’t be bad as long as the job seekers are applying for real jobs as often as possible – now it’s about quality but not quantity anymore. Job seekers cannot (rather not) apply for the jobs they don’t qualify for, whether it’s a physical or skill job. Then Centrelink can advise, direct and train all job seekers for real jobs. I think a little incentive to those who lack skills and experience might make a difference.

Everyone has to take a risk courageously or randomly in choosing a career. There they will give everything they have to gain the skills for the chosen career both physically and psychologically. They prepare themselves for a skill set. Some might be able to do better than others. Some might be able to prepare themselves for any condition that will come in the future – meaning they might be able to prepare for both physical and intellectual works. There everyone has to develop a lifestyle suitable for the chosen career. If a career is to perform more physically than intellectually, those people will be more physical and physically tough. And if a career is to have a lifestyle in office, the people who have taken that path cannot be physically fit but they must perform as required among the best of their kinds. 

Four things differentiate us are: nature, nurture, opportunity and investment. Nature and nurture are a well-known idea. Opportunity is also a clear idea that everyone should get an equal opportunity if the society cherishes equality, democracy and integration. The more one gets, the more one has, whether wealth or poverty, education or ignorance – that’s natural. A society needs everyone in good shape. Equality and moderation can give that good shape – like a beautiful lady. Australia is the land of values: integrity, integration, equal opportunity, and ruled with justice for everyone. Some conditions can upset these values whether by mistake or by political requirements. Investment is important. The right investment on nurture and opportunity is important. If all necessities are invested rightly, the outcomes will be as expected.  Just as every worker should get the minimum wage, the minimum investment for them can be set to allow those who have the nature for education and income.


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