Creating pathways to employment is a crucial step in the process of resettling newly arrived refugees.

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Refugees who have fled their homes seeking safety and a new place to call home have much to contribute. They are our friends and neighbours, and also our colleagues, our customers, our suppliers, our local small businesses and our shareholders.

Integrating refugees into the Australian workforce benefits society by enabling people to build a new life for themselves and their families.

Employment is a vital part of refugees becoming self-reliant and building a future for themselves and their families. A job brings economic security and creates feelings of belonging, being valued and recognised as an individual. People are proud to contribute to the society that has given them freedom and safety.

There are compelling humanitarian grounds for Australian employers to find ways to give refugees an opportunity to join the labour force and demonstrate what they are capable of. Giving people the support they need to integrate and become productive members of our society in turn strengthens and enriches the welcoming community, both socially and economically. Refugees contribute as workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, taxpayers, volunteers and investors.

Businesses and business leaders of Australia play a significant role, alongside the Australian community and government, in enabling a long-term resettlement process to secure a bright and prosperous future for all Australians.

About the initiative

Friendly Nation Initiative seeks to enhance the refugee employment strategy in Australia and encourages Australian businesses to provide employment, mentoring, internship and work experience opportunities to refugees.

The Initiative facilitates a national community of practice to provide employers with a peer network for developing and sharing best practice in refugee employment, and develops guidance to support employers in welcoming and integrating refugees into their workforces, noting that every business is unique and needs a tailored and business-focused approach.

Friendly Nation Initiative is led by Migration Council of Australia and supported by the Australian Industry Group.

Refugee numbers at a glance

Globally, there were 25.4 million refugees by the end of 2017 1

The majority of refugees live in countries bordering the one from which they fled – only a small fraction of refugees is eligible for resettlement in third countries

In 2017, only 102,800 refugees were resettled worldwide 2

Australia has an allocated 18,750 humanitarian places for 2018-19 3

Between 1 January 2000 and 9 August 2016, approximately 214,656 persons were accepted by Australia through the Humanitarian stream 4

Just over a quarter (28%) humanitarian stream migrants in Australia had a Bachelor Degree of higher according to ABS 2016 Census data 5

In 2017-18, Australia granted 16,250 humanitarian program visas, comprising 14,825 visas under the offshore component and 1,425 under the onshore component. 6