The transition to life in Australia for German-born Oliver Morfeld was seamless. The engineer moved to the southern hemisphere for work, first to Philippines and then to Melbourne about 20 years ago.
For Mr Morfeld, employment security played an important role in helping create a new life in a new land.
So when his wife suggested he consider hiring an asylum seeker to work in the Derrimut factory he oversees as operations manager for Vistaprint, he thought he’d give it a go.
“I never experienced the struggles these guys have – I had it very easy,” said Mr Morfeld of the six asylum seekers he has employed.
“These guys have the traditional refugee story – they left their war-torn country, went on a plane, ended up in Indonesia, got scooped up by the navy and found themselves in a refugee detention centre and then were released into the community with work permits.”
Mr Morfeld worked with the Brotherhood of St Laurence to find recruits.
The first he hired was Jamshid Kakar, who came to Australia from Afghanistan.
Mr Morfeld said Mr Kakar’s positive attitude to his work prompted him to return to the program when he needed to fill another vacancy.
“They put a lot of pride into their work and it’s rewarding to see them embrace the opportunities they’ve been given,” Mr Morfeld said.
The recruits start work on a casual basis and are provided on-the-job training. Two have since transitioned to apprenticeships.
Since the program was launched four years ago, 418 asylum seekers have been employed, with 65 per cent still in their jobs.