Noor Kamal knows just how important his job is at mattress recycling social enterprise Soft Landing’s warehouse in Smithfield.
“If I didn’t have this job I wouldn’t be able to support my family back home, and all of the friends I have made in Australia have been through my work,” said Mr Kamal, who arrived in Australia in 2013 after fleeing Myanmar, where his Rohingya background saw him face persecution for being an ethnic minority.
“I love Australia and I have a lot of freedom here compared to what I used to have, I even get to play local football. I’m very grateful to be here – it’s peaceful and I feel safe.”
The 27-year-old, who spent five years in detention at Christmas Island and is now on a bridging visa, has been working at the Smithfield site since 2019. When the mattress recycler – which collects and recycles mattresses to keep waste out of landfill – needed more hands after a move to manual processing, it looked to local refugee communities.
Soft Landing state manager NSW Joe Rasmussen said only 31 percent of refugees have a job five years after resettlement in Australia.
“It can be tough for refugees to find opportunities, even if they were highly qualified in their countries of origin,” said Mr Rasmussen, who won a Settlement Services International Community Appreciation Award in late 2020 for his contribution to refugee employment.
“Every day we see examples of how having and keeping a job can change someone’s life.”