New volunteer portal hopes to bring more jobs for refugees, migrants

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A new online volunteer portal hopes to bring more employment opportunities and strengthen community ties for migrants and refugees in Australia.

Thousands of newly arrived refugees and migrants rely on community organisations for essential services, including social support and employment opportunities.

It is hoped a new website will make it easier to link those organisations with the volunteers who power them.

Employment website Seek and the New South Wales government have joined forces to create an online portal to help.

NSW Minister for Volunteering Ray Williams said the idea was to more easily connect organisations with willing volunteers.

"We are opening up those opportunities for people to get online [and] have a look at ways that they can contribute to society," Mr Williams told SBS World News.

"We know that people are healthier if they volunteer and there are more employment opportunities if they volunteer."

From firefighting to community gardens, Volunteering Australia says 5.8 million Australians lend their time every year.

That effort generates an estimated $290 billion in economic and social good, and can have a lasting impact on the community.

Ladan Haghighat volunteers in the Friendship Garden at Auburn Community centre in Western Sydney once a week.

The Iranian refugee says she received plenty of help when she came to Australia 18 years ago and wanted to do something in return.

"You get the new opportunity to be involved and do something good to give back to the community," Ms Haghighat told SBS World News.

"They accepted me with open arms, so this volunteering is very helpful."

Migrant support services have welcomed the chance to reach a wider group of candidates.

Settlement Services International are advertising 25 opportunities on the website at the moment.

"The more exposure you have the more likely you are to bring people into the organisation," SSI volunteer program manager Joe Wright said.

"I think obviously the proof will be in the pudding when we see how this is going in six to 12 months' time, but I'm very confident this will have the impact government are looking for."

The portal launched on Monday with 2,700 live New South Wales opportunities from 1,200 organisations.

Visit NSW Volunteering for more details.

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