Newcastle – A fair go for refugee women in the Hunter

Leaving your whole life behind to find a fresh start in a new country is no small feat, let alone if you are a young refugee woman arriving in Australia trying to create a life for yourself. It’s a situation that 11,000 young migrant and refugee women in the Hunter and on the Central Coast currently find themselves in.
Assisted by a $88,600 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, the University of Newcastle’s Social and Economic Resilience of Young Migrants and Refugee Women Program is working to help them build a career in the construction industry.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chair, Ross Griffiths, said this partnership provides the opportunity for change for generations to come, and will help redefine the typical ‘tradie’ stereotype along the way.
“The construction industry is booming, but it continues to be male dominated,” Mr Griffiths said.
“This program is aiming to help migrant and refugee women enter the industry with confidence by working towards having 50 women aged between 18 and 45 years old obtain a Certificate II in Construction by April 2024.

“Program participants will then be able to use their new skills in real-world opportunities, gaining paid jobs and apprenticeships, and even obtaining further specialisation. By bringing together these communities of refugee women and tradies, who may not have interacted before, the program is also helping to cultivate diversity.”

Professor Temitope Egbelakin, from the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, said that by providing mentoring and networking opportunities, the participants will also be able to develop relationships with women in similar positions.
“Mentoring is critical for women entering the construction sector. It provides them with opportunities to become more competent in their roles and increase their ability to succeed in a male-dominated environment,” she said.

“I would like to thank Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for their help in making this project possible.”

Program participant Saeedeh is looking forward to the opportunities the program can provide.
“I want to be able to set up my life here in Australia, this program is allowing me to do this,” she said. “I am a person who enjoys physical work, so construction is a perfect chance to use these talents.
“This program is giving me my confidence back, allowing me to be financially independent which is a big step forward in life.

“I’m looking forward to working hard and making a life that I deserve.” Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation provides more than $1 million in grants each year to charitable projects aimed at improving the health and social wellbeing of vulnerable people in regional NSW. Since its establishment in 2003, it has provided more than $25 million to some 550 community initiatives.