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Canberra's Karen refugee cleaners given a major boost

Harmony Community Cleaning members and their supporters Source: SBS

A deal with Airbnb has given a Canberra cleaning company, made up of Karen refugees from Myanmar, a major boost.The company was started after a group of 22 refugee cleaners took a Canberra company to court over underpayment, and won.

Accommodation giant Airbnb is urging its Canberra hosts to use Harmony Community Cleaning to get their place ready for guests.

The online platform is also funding a business development manager to help the company expand and provide more permanent jobs for refugees.

It's a big boost for the co-operative enterprise comprised of about 40 Karen refugees who fled Myanmar and Thailand before settling in Canberra. 

About half of its members were previously employed by a company that was found guilty of underpayment and ordered to pay more than $230,000 in compensation in 2015. 

United Voice ACT secretary Lyndal Ryan said the language barrier and the lack of a manufacturing industry in the nation's capital, means many refugees' first job in Australia is with cleaning companies.  

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