Opening doors at the ATO

Abdikadir and Federal Minister David Gillespie at a recent meeting between Jesuit Social Services staff and the Minister.

Many people who settle in Australia from other countries face a range of challenges – from learning a new language, understanding and navigating health and housing systems to finding a job.

For Abdikadir, who settled in Australia from Somalia in 2002, his hope in arriving in the ‘lucky country’ was that the opportunities would be waiting for him – however that wasn’t the case.

Abdikadir first taught himself English by reading the national papers and his two favourite writers Annabel Crabbe and Waleed Aly. Once he had grasped the language, he commenced study as he believed this would enable him to secure employment.

“I am a Bachelor of Business graduate with a Masters in Financial Analysis and an advanced Diploma in Accounting,” he says.

“When you apply for hundreds of jobs and don’t get a single reply, not even for a phone interview, you keep studying because education is an attractive way to exploit the opportunities that are not available in our homeland.

“It [education system] is also a system assumed to be based on merit and less affected by the racial discrimination and prejudice encountered by migrants in other areas.

“I kept thinking if I got another degree, that would put me in a better position to get me even an entry level job in my field, but that wasn’t the case. I was still unemployed after completing three qualifications driving a cab seven nights a week.

“I have only ever had two professional job interviews since arriving in Australia, and one of those was with Jesuit Social Services who then linked me with the Australian Taxation Office.”

Abdikadir had heard that the Australian Taxation Office was working in a new partnership with Jesuit Social Services to recruit to the refugee stream of the ATO Opening Doors program. The Opening Doors program taps into talent pools that are often overlooked. It provides employment opportunities for qualified individuals from refugee or humanitarian entrant backgrounds with Australian citizenship. Abdikadir decided to apply.

He was one of 23 successful participants to commence with the program in February. Abdikadir now works as a service delivery officer in the ATO’s Moonee Ponds office, and loves dealing with clients as well as the variety his role offers.

Over six months, both Jesuit Social Services and the ATO support participants to refine their job readiness skills, develop their soft skills, enterprise behaviours and ways of thinking that will be of benefit as they embark on their future career journeys in Australia.

“Every day there is someone or something different to investigate in order to help the clients,” he says.

When his six months is complete, he plans to apply for a permanent position with the organisation or in the wider public service.

“I hope to continue to serve the community – as my dad used to say ‘You can have anything you want in life, you just have to help enough other people get what they want in life.’”