Australia has a long history of refugee or humanitarian immigration. In 2014-15 Australia received 13,756 humanitarian immigrants. In 2015 the Abbott Coalition Government pledged to take in an additional 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi conflict refugees. The key difficulty that newly arrived humanitarian immigrants face after getting a place to live, accessing their welfare rights, getting their children enrolled in a local school and getting established in their new neighbourhoods, is to find a job. Unemployment rates for refugees are exceeded only by unemployment rates for Indigenous Australians.
It is this employment barrier, or “blocked mobility”, that refugees face in the Australian labour market, which SSI has addressed with some lateral thinking in devising the Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative. For over seven decades many immigrants – including refugees and humanitarian entrants – have moved to establish a small business as a means of providing for their family.
The task was to think of new ways to assist this process.