Brisbane Catholic Education giving refugees a new start with Work and Welcome program


BCE Work and Welcome coordinator, Enrique Ramirez.​

Afghan law graduate and former NATO interpreter *Fatima has swapped the law books for contracts working with Brisbane Catholic Education’s (BCE) procurement team. 

It’s a career change the ‘BCE Work and Welcome’ program candidate is grateful for, saying it “changed her life.”  

BCE proudly partners with Multicultural Australia to support refugees to gain valuable work experience in BCE offices and schools.  

16 candidates from Afghanistan, Iran, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Syria have been provided valuable employment experience since the program was established in 2013. 

Since participating in the BCE program, more than 70 per cent of candidates have gone on to secure employment or continue their studies.

“The Work and Welcome program has made a big different in my life and those of my family,” said Fatima, who worked for the Australian Defence Force for three years while in her home city of Kabul.   

“When we left Afghanistan last August our lives were in turmoil 

“But now we feel safe, and I am hopeful for the future because I have been working at Brisbane Catholic Education. 

“Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive, which has meant a lot to me.

“I really loved this job because I am constantly meeting new people from other countries and helping others.” 

Fatima, her parents and four siblings were fortunate to get a flight out of Kabul in August after the country came under Taliban control.  

She said the process of getting visas and a flight for her family was traumatic, but she and her family are focused on their new life in Australia now. 

“We really wanted to come to Australia because it was the country which would grant a visa to all my family and we wanted to be together,” Fatima said. 

Her parents and two of her siblings are currently studying English at TAFE while her younger brother and sister are attending school.

BCE Work and Welcome coordinator, Enrique Ramirez, said the Work and Welcome program is about creating equal opportunities for refugees and giving them work experience in their new country. 

“Our Work and Welcome candidates get experience across different teams in the BCE office and schools,” said Enrique. 

“We are really proud of what our candidates have achieved and the support they have been given at BCE.” 

The Work and Welcome is fully funded by BCE staff from offices and schools.  

*Fatima’s name has been changed in this article to protect her and her family’s identity.  

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