ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REPORT: A program that helps African-Australians with employment opportunities has won a prestigious Melbourne Award.
The African-Australian Inclusion Program (AAIP), developed jointly between Jesuit Social Services and NAB, recently won the award for its 'contribution to the community.'
The Melbourne Awards celebrate people and organisations whose vision and hard work shapes our city and honour a diverse range of contributions, focusing on individuals, community organisations and businesses who give their time selflessly for the benefit of the city.
Jesuit Social Services Chief Executive Officer, Julie Edwards, said she were "delighted" by the award and that recognition was being paid to a crucial program which helps African-Australians enter into the workforce.
"The African-Australian Inclusion Program (AAIP) has been running since 2008 and provides quality work experience within the banking sector for university qualified African-Australians. The AAIP has been extremely successful with 54 participants enrolled in the program to date, and 17 of those participants securing ongoing roles within NAB," Ms Edwards said.
A lack of Australian work experience has been identified as the most significant barrier to professionally qualified African-Australians gaining employment in corporate Australia and the AAIP helps to break down this barrier by offering members of the African community local work experience with major financial corporations such as the NAB.
"It is crucial that African-Australians are given a realistic opportunity to enter into the workforce so they can support their families, become role models and mentors and encourage the next generation of African-Australians to become qualified and pursue their ambitions," Ms Edwards said.
The AAIP aims to provide a practical learning and working experience for participants and provide them with enhanced job prospects in their chosen field by developing baseline skills and process understanding, such as developing spreadsheets to support analysis or reporting processes.
"It also enhances their resumes with NAB experience, and provides a reference from a NAB mentor for future employers," Ms Edwards said.
"I have grown professionally and personally as a result of being in the program," said participant Semira Fekadu.
"The program has been fantastic. It has given me the opportunity to finally get the networks and work experience essential in landing that dream first job," added another participant, Munya Chitura.
For more on the program go to: www.jss.org.au/programs/all-programs/african-australian-inclusion-program.
Jesuit Social Services African-Australian Inclusion Program participants and representatives. Photo by Ben Wolstencroft.