Immigration

Migrant women find it harder to get work despite qualifications

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An SBS survey of women with migrant or refugee backgrounds found one of their biggest challenges is finding work, despite being qualified.

Finding a job and access to health care have been named as the two biggest challenges facing women with a migrant or refugee background when settling in Australia, a major survey has found. 

The Harmony Alliance survey, conducted in partnership with SBS, also found 71 per cent of respondents had a positive view of Australia.

More than three-quarters of respondents had worked in the last 12 months and were somewhat, or very satisfied with their employment.

But many said they struggled to get job interviews, despite being qualified for the roles. 

Harmony Alliance Chairwoman Maria Dimopolous said the survey highlighted that barriers to finding work in Australia included a lack of strong networks in Australia and not being able to work in the same job as they did overseas. 

"I think recognition of overseas or professional skills that people arrive with and the fact that they are often not identified as being skills here in this country is an important barrier to women achieving the sorts of outcomes that they are looking for," she told SBS News.

"I think discrimination was certainly identified as a key area, just not even getting job interviews based on things like your surname or based on your ethnicity."

Hard times

Anyier Yuol arrived in Australia from a refugee camp in Kenya when she was just 10 years old after losing both her parents in the Sudanese Civil War.

Anyier Yuol is an advocate for women with migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Anyier Yuol is an advocate for women with migrant and refugee backgrounds.
SBS News

She now works for the Australian National Community on Refugee Women, where she dedicates her life to helping other female refugees and migrants integrate into society.

Ms Yuol said the results of the survey were "heartbreaking" and the challenges they face now vary greatly from those she experienced growing up.

"Honestly when I look at my upbringing, it was quite different. But now working in the sector, I can tell that a lot of young people are going through hard times, especially when they are looking for jobs," she told SBS News.

The survey also identified many migrant women did not have the available information on where to seek help or advice regarding health problems.

Harmony Alliance Chairwoman Maria Dimopolous.
Harmony Alliance Chairwoman Maria Dimopolous.
SBS News

Nearly a quarter of respondents had never received advice regarding physical or mental health problems.

Ms Dimopolous said it was a concern to discover women from migrant backgrounds were not receiving basic information about where they can seek medical advice.

"It's a major concern to hear that women are basically not getting access to information in language that are impacting on their health outcomes," she said.

"It obviously is then going to affect the choices that women make about whatever diagnosis or prognosis that they receive."

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