Why Canberra businesses should consider taking on refugees as apprentices


Why Canberra businesses should consider taking on refugees as apprentices
  1. Why Canberra businesses should consider taking on refugees as apprentices
    theage.com.au
    Getting an apprenticeship was not smooth sailing for 21-year-old Iranian refugee…
    Football

Apprentice cabinet maker Jawad Haidari loves the feel of timber beneath his hands. One of his proudest achievements is creating a beautiful coffee table for some mates.

But getting an apprenticeship was not smooth sailing for the 21-year-old Iranian refugee.

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David Jackson, owner of Simplicity Kitchens, watches second-year apprentice in cabinet making Jawad Haidari in the workshop. David Jackson, owner of Simplicity Kitchens, watches second-year apprentice in cabinet making Jawad Haidari in the workshop. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Now permanent humanitarian visa holders like Jawad can access ACT government-subsidised apprenticeships, traineeships and Skilled Capital qualifications, multicultural affairs minister Rachel Stephen-Smith announced last week.

The changes mean more refugees and asylum seekers in the ACT will have access to subsidised training in areas of skills shortages, Ms Stephen-Smith said.

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But it has been a long road for Jawad to get to this point.

Jawad's mother and father were driven out of Afghanistan by the Taliban and sought refuge in Iran, where Jawad was born.

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But the family also faced persecution there and, when Jawad was 16, he was arrested and deported for not having the correct identification.

"I didn't have anyone in Afghanistan because all of my family are in Iran and it was really tough. I was scared, I didn't know what to do.

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Second-year apprentice in cabinet making Jawad Haideri and David Jackson, owner of Simplicity Kitchens. Second-year apprentice in cabinet making Jawad Haideri and David Jackson, owner of Simplicity Kitchens. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"To be 16 years old and to be in that situation, it was a really tough time for me."

Jawad fled Afghanistan to Malaysia, where he hopped on a boat bound for Indonesia.

But police intercepted the boat just over the border and Jawad spent six months in an Indonesian jail.

He managed to escape prison and spent several months in Jakarta before taking a boat to Australia.

"I was on the boat for three days and four nights without food and not much water and then I went to Christmas Island for a couple of months," Jawad said.

He wound up in a juvenile detention centre in Hobart for four more months before he came to Canberra and began studying at Dickson College.

There he studied woodwork and spent a week doing work experience with Canberra's Simplicity Kitchens.

Owner David Jackson was impressed by Jawad's work ethic.

"We noticed straight away his attitude and effort was 110 per cent, that's the only way to describe the young fella, and on the Friday I turned around and said to him, 'if you are looking at doing an…

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