Allianz Australia has today brought together business leaders from the Queensland Government’s ‘Queensland Multicultural Ambassadors’ program for a Refugee Week event aimed at advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
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.
Background on Allianz’s refugee and migrant employment and training programs
Since November 2016, Allianz and SSI have implemented several programs to help create jobs, and open up access to education for refugees and migrants recently arrived in Australia. This includes:
- Allianz Sustainable Employment Program: Allianz aims to place up to five ‘employment ready’ refugees and migrants every six months through its Allianz Sustainable Employment Program (SEP). Each cadet completes one or two placements within the business, before identifying a suitable permanent role. Each cadetship includes developing their English communication skills, specific Divisional inductions and technical training, and basic insurance training and general business acumen. To date, 21 refugees have been placed in a range of permanent roles including accounting and finance, data science, audit and customer service.
- SSI Scholarships: Over the past two years, Allianz has provided scholarships of between $500 to $5,000 to 90 refugees to assist them in achieving their career goals. The recipients of these scholarships are from refugee and migrant backgrounds across the NSW education system, including secondary school, vocational education and training, university, and skills and qualifications recognition.
- Allianz Ladder Program: Launched in 2017, Allianz Ladder is a two-day program for refugee youths that helps them develop core business skills and confidence in finding their first job in Australia. The program includes a series of workshops and mentoring sessions that help participants develop foundation business skills such as problem solving, innovation, communication and teamwork. Several participants are offered permanent employment with Allianz upon completion of the course.
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Allianz Australia delivers a wide range of personal, commercial and corporate insurance products and services to more than 3 million policyholders. More than 50% of Australia’s top 200 BRW-listed companies have some form of insurance cover with the group and the group provides workers compensation services to around one-fifth of Australian employees.