A youth engagement program has been introduced by The Ethnic Council of Shepparton.RIAHN SMITH February 2, 2013 7:00am
Hassan Qassim has worked hard to forge a new life for himself in Shepparton.
The Iraqi man, 21, arrived in Australia with his family as a teenager and has spent the past four years studying to increase his chances at gaining fulfilling employment.
But he’s quickly learned a hard lesson; education isn’t everything and finding a job can be tough.
‘‘It’s hard to find job here in Shepp,’’ Mr Qassim said.
‘‘I want to be a mechanic, I finished my course and no-one (will) accept (me) for apprenticeship. Why? I don’t know why.’’
It’s a problem that Khaluf Alsalim has seen time and time again.
The Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District community development officer
And it seems employment is not the only challenge facing this cohort.
Mr Alsalim said language barriers, family issues and cultural differences all made it difficult for these young people to engage in society, either with their own culture, or the broader community.
To bridge this gap, the ethnic council has introduced a youth engagement program, which offers personal and career counselling to people between the ages of 16 and 25.
Even soccer has been touted as a viable way of engaging them with others in the community.
Mr Alsalim said he hoped this venture would tackle the biggest issue for these young people; not knowing where to go to find the help they need.
‘‘The young people from multicultural backgrounds usually have no knowledge about the Australian culture,’’ Mr Alsalim said.
‘‘They don’t understand the Australian system (and so) they’re disconnected from schools, education, employment.’’
The first session took place almost two weeks ago and although only five people attended, Mr Alsalim said he was pleased with the turnout.
‘‘It’s only the beginning, they don’t know much about the program (so) I explained to them what’s the benefit and how it’s going to work.
‘‘We’re going to increase their opportunities by searching more.
‘‘Refer them to other organisations and introduce them to other organisations that they don’t know about.
‘‘No promises, but we’re going to do our best.’’
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