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A little help goes a long way for asylum seekers starting anew

12 December 2018

Local training course provides key to a better future.

Shafiq had experience working in kitchens in Malaysia but without Australian qualifications or references, the asylum seeker found it hard to find work.

That’s where MercyCare’s Keys to Life Fund was able to help.

The Keys to Life Fund unlocks opportunities for asylum seekers, refugees and new migrants who, with few resources, are taking the next step to independence.

Shafiq and his wife Li came to Australia from Malaysia in 2016 to seek asylum.

He comes from a Muslim family and she is a Christian.

To live together legally in Malaysia, they must be married, but to get married, Li would have to convert to Islam.

“She is a Christian and she doesn’t want to convert to Islam,” Shafiq said.

“Family and religious conflict meant we had no option other than to flee the country or face prosecution,” Shafiq said.

They arrived here on a tourist visa with their infant daughter and sought protection upon their arrival.

The trio are currently on bridging visas, hoping to be granted protection by the Australian government.

They were referred to the MercyCare Career Centre where their Career Advisor Collette, assessed their situation.

The couple signed up to take part in English language classes at MercyCare’s Mirrabooka Service Centre and discussed employment options with Collette.

“My English is not too bad, but I just want to improve,” Shafiq said.

Since arriving in Australia Li became pregnant with the couple’s second daughter and has been focused on raising the couple’s children but Shafiq was keen to find work.

In Malaysia, he’d worked in a food court preparing and cooking food but without Australian qualifications or references, it was difficult for him to find work.

Thanks to MercyCare’s Keys to Life Fund, Shafiq was sponsored to undertake a commercial cookery course to assist him in his quest to find work.

Both Shafiq and Li had both been volunteering at their local Salvation Army in Balga since soon after arriving.

Much of the time Shafiq was at the Salvation Army, he was helping out in the kitchen, preparing meals for the children at the co-located early learning centre.

So, when he completed his Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at the Empyrean Education Institute and a part time role came up in the centre’s kitchen at the end of 2017, he was the ideal candidate and was given the job.

Here in Australia the couple have made many wonderful friends, they’ve established themselves as valued members of the Salvation Army team in Balga and are enjoying bringing their children up in a happy and peaceful environment.

Shafiq enjoys the work he does and hopes the family are accepted to live out their lives here in Australia.

The couple don’t want to get ahead of themselves but would love to get married one day.

MercyCare’s Status Resolution Support Services program works with eligible service users during their migration status resolution process to support a self-sufficient, positive, healthy and engaged lifestyle in the Australian community.

Our Job and Skills Centre is designed to assist people from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) background at any point throughout their life to make educational, training and work choices.

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