The unique program brings together Queensland businesses across industries ranging from insurance and sport to financial services who have committed to the Multicultural Queensland Charter designed to help organisations capitalise on the benefits of diversity.
The Refugee Week event resulted from Allianz’s nearly three-year partnership with Settlement Services International (SSI), which was last year recognised with the Australian Human Rights Commission Business Award for providing meaningful and permanent employment and training for refugees and migrants.
Since the partnership was formed in 2016, Allianz has provided almost $100,000 in scholarships to refugee youths and hired 21 refugees and migrants in a range of permanent roles including accounting and finance, data science, audit and customer service.
Opening the event, attended by over 50 of the 80 Multicultural Ambassador Program signatories, Queensland Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Hon. Stirling Hinchliffe said he was committed to building a “united, harmonious, and inclusive Queensland”.
“Our Multicultural Ambassadors Program is an important initiative in providing a platform for organisations to learn from each other. It’s great to see Allianz bring so many different groups to the table today who are leading the way in their approaches to diversity and inclusion,” he said.
Allianz Australia Chief Technical Officer Donna Walker said holding the event during Refugee Week was an important reminder to challenge stereotypes and build multicultural workforces that reflect the modern Australian landscape.
“Australia’s refugees are far from a homogenous group; they come from enormously diverse backgrounds and bring with them a wealth of skills and life experiences. However, there are often barriers that many highly skilled refugees and migrants face when trying to seek suitable employment, including language and cultural differences, a lack of recognition by employers for their experience and education, and, quite often, unconscious bias,” she said.
“The perception is that all refugees are uneducated and unskilled but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Al Samaan, an Allianz Australia employee who came to Australia with a Bachelor of Economics degree from Syria and is completing her Masters in Auditing.
“The opportunity to bring my skill set and university qualifications to a global company such as Allianz has helped to address some common misconceptions about refugees, while also helping to establish my confidence in a foreign country and sharpen my English skills and experience.”
Other speakers at the event included AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren; Suncorp CEO, Wealth and Banking David Carter; and MDA CEO Kerrin Benson.