Healing & Hope – How BCE’s Work & Welcome Program is Changing Refugees’ Lives


​(Above: Brisbane Catholic Education Work and Welcome Program participant Mustafa with BCE colleagues.)​

​Brisbane Catholic Education's (BCE) Work and Welcome Program is changing lives, giving refugees from around the world the opportunity to thrive in Australia. Established in 2013 and partnering with Multicultural Australia, BCE's Work and Welcome Program is a self-funded initiative that employs people from a refugee/migrant background for 10-12 weeks in BCE offices and schools across Queensland.

16 program participants are welcomed to safe and inclusive workplaces where they not only learn valuable skills and create meaningful networks, but can also take the time to heal, recover their confidence and dignity. Working across a variety of departments including administration, project management, information technology and resource development, the program has a high number of successful outcomes – from gaining employment with BCE or other organisations, to continued study via BCE Scholarships or via their own initiative.

More than 90 BCE staff volunteer to contribute financially to support the Work and Welcome Program and enjoy seeing the positive and long-lasting impact on the program participants. Brisbane Catholic Education is proud to have people and a culture that promotes Catholic social responsibility, diversity and creating a better future.

Mustafa is a refugee from Afghanistan who joined BCE as part of the Work and Welcome program in 2016. After 12 weeks working at BCE and demonstrating his considerable talents, he was offered a full-time position in the Learning and Teaching Department. He worked in this department and exceeded expectations in developing learning resources for our 146 schools. Following four years at BCE, he was awarded a BCE Refugee Scholarship and accomplished a Diploma in Software Development.

“The Work and Welcome program is life-changing." Mustafa says,

“I appreciate the program for everything it has done for me. It has been a pleasure to be at BCE for the past six years. I have learnt so much and met so many wonderful people, I am truly grateful."

Before starting the program, Mustafa and his family were persecuted for their Hazara background. Hundreds of Hazara people have been killed in targeted attacks and large-scale bombings by sectarian organisations. After moving to Quetta (Pakistan) they were targeted, endured continued harassment and death threats so Mustafa's started his journey to seek a better future. Supported by his family who sacrificed and saved to enable him to leave Quetta, Mustafa travelled alone at only 16 years old through Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia before trying to enter Australia to seek asylum. Detained in Australian waters and sent to Christmas Island Detention Centre for approximately one year, when he was finally released in Brisbane he secured a scholarship to finish college and was fostered by a very generous Australian family.

Following this, Mustafa commenced the BCE Work and Welcome program where he has experienced career growth, stability and created life-long friendships. In fact, there were many tears shed by his team when Mustafa shared that he was leaving BCE in June 2022 and had taken the opportunity to start as a software developer in an IT company. Well wishes for the future were shared at a farewell morning tea for Mustafa, in addition to thanks for the impact he has made to BCE. 

Mustafa Farewell_Resized-3.jpg

Watch this space as we aim to share more stories of hope and impact of our Work and Welcome Program.

If you would like to learn more about the program, contact the Work and Welcome Program Coordinator Enrique Ramirez Chavez: enrique.ramirez@bne.catholic.edu.au 

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