MELS deepens engagement with migrant and refugee communities through Community Training Program

The Migrant Employment Legal Service kicked off the Employment Law Community Training ‘Train the Trainer’ Program at the end of April 2021.

Over 8 weeks, 16 community leaders and workers from diverse migrant and refugee backgrounds will receive training from government agencies and organisations, including but not limited to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Fair Work Commission, Legal Aid NSW, Anti- Discrimination NSW and Unions NSW, in employment and anti-discrimination laws and services.

Once they complete the training, which has been based on the Train the Trainer program developed by WEstJustice, the participating community leaders will then educate their own communities about workplace laws and assist to improve access to legal services for vulnerable migrant worker communities that traditionally do not access mainstream services.

“We know that a lot of migrant workers get their information from family, friends and other trusted members within their communities. To improve the delivery and accessibility of our program, it is critical for us to engage with communities in a meaningful way to ensure our service is targeted and culturally appropriate. One way of doing this is by training bi-lingual community educators to raise awareness of work rights in their own communities.” says the MELS Program Coordinator, Tu Le.

Reports show that the exploitation of migrant workers is widespread and systemic.

Migrant workers are not adequately informed of their workplace rights and face many barriers to accessing legal support to address their workplace issues, such as low levels of English language proficiency, lack of awareness of workplace laws, and in some cases, fear of immigration consequences.

An integral part of overcoming these barriers is engaging with community leaders and workers from migrant communities who can a speak the language and have an established level of trust within their communities.

The training program helps to bridge this gap by effectively informing people about their rights at work and available services, while also empowering communities to enforce their rights by building relationships and trust between vulnerable workers and services that can assist.

One participating community educator shares their motivation for participating in the training: “I would like to increase relevant knowledge and skills to better empower and advocate for my community and make referrals to legal support services.”

Another community educator expressed that: “After the program, I will be in the best position to educate my community about their work rights and where to seek redress.”

The training program is funded by the City of Sydney.

Media enquiries: Maeve Redmond

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