Aust-first job mentality hurting refugees

·2-min read

An "Australian-first" mentality in the COVID-plagued job market is disproportionately impacting refugees and asylum seekers, new research shows.

The research paper from Monash University business school and the University of Melbourne has found heightened competition in the job market fuelled discrimination towards these groups.

The authors of the report, published in the Australian Journal of Social Issues on Wednesday, said some employers had resorted to an "Australian first" mentality for available jobs.

The findings are based on interviews with 20 refugees and asylum seekers as well as 35 managers from Australian groups who employ, supervise, or assist them.

Of refugees and asylum seekers interviewed, 15 per cent were unemployed and 40 per cent were in casual or short-term employment.

All those on temporary protection visas or bridging visas were ineligible for JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments.

With fewer jobs advertised and many unemployed people willing to take on less attractive roles, most managers interviewed noted increased labour market competition.

"Where there's a really high degree of competition for jobs and lots of more capable, recently unemployed job seekers, the refugee candidate is going to end up going to the bottom of the pile," one told researchers.

Some managers also referenced bias against applicants based on postcodes and name discrimination.

Lead author Diarmuid Cooney-O'Donoghue from Monash Business School said refugees and asylum seekers already found it difficult finding work pre-COVID.

"The pandemic and its impact on the Australian economy has reduced job prospects for these neglected minority groups," he said.

"(They) are highly exposed because they are often employed in precarious jobs and industries that have been particularly hit by COVID-19 - such as hospitality, taxi driving, retail and construction."

The research team suggests four ways to raise their employment prospects, including providing more pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for temporary protection visa holders.

"This would greatly increase their opportunities for employment," Mr Cooney-O'Donoghue said.

"At the same time, this may help Australian businesses to compensate for the loss of migrant workers due to COVID-19."

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