New training program to help bring migrant women into care roles

Michelle Rowland MP (far right) visiting students

Macquarie Community College in Sydney has launched its SKILLS4You program at the Ryde campus, specially designed to train and support migrant women seeking careers in the care sector.

SKILLS4You is tailored to increase opportunities for migrant women to gain skills for life and work in Australia, increasing their participation in employment pathways and connecting them with others in their local communities.

The launch comes at an extremely crucial time, with the most recent census data indicating that there are 2,670 culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) unemployed women living in the Ryde LGA with 15,301 women not engaged in employment or training.


According to a report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, migrant and refugee women are more likely to obtain paid work in Australia if they have attended school, have post-school qualifications or have studied/completed vocational training in Australia. 

The benefits of such a program for aged care are significant, in not only providing staff to a sector experiencing severe shortages but also providing a diverse workforce that in many ways mirrors those requiring actual care – approx 30% of Australian over the age of 65 were born overseas.

Macquarie Community College CEO Theresa Collignon said she is proud to be launching a program that is so vital to groups within the Ryde community.

“Macquarie Community College has always set the standard for quality adult community education. We are committed to ensuring that all our participants feel welcome, respected and supported along their learning pathways. As we say at the College – we welcome all who want to climb the ladder of learning – and they can start from any rung.”

The SKILLS4You program involves increasing participants’ English language and literacy skills, including language for the world of work in caring careers, understanding their level of employment readiness for local workplaces, setting specific employment-related goals and working towards achieving them.

Olga Terfezine, a Sudan-born, Italian-Ethiopian mother of four successfully completed her Certificate III in Individual Support at Macquarie Community College and knows the strength of the program firsthand. This was after years of false starts and putting her dreams on the back burner due to an inability to find a suitable education pathway.

“For me, the course at Macquarie Community College was the absolute best available for someone with my experience and general industry understanding. I was able to complete it at a pace that suited me and I have been lucky enough to gain a job through an aged care work placement that was organised by the College.”

“Thanks to the program I undertook, I’m now working in the disability sector with children aged 6-10 with Autism. It’s extremely rewarding, and I love what I do,” Ms Terfezine said.

Minimbah Disability Support Services CEO, Wayne Newell, said Minimbah and Macquarie Community College Ryde have a long-term and active relationship in providing work placement and employment opportunities for students undertaking a Certificate III in Individual Support.

“Minimbah has partnered with the SKILLS4 You program at Macquarie Community College as their focus aligns with our workforce goals to provide vocational training and employment outcomes, integrated with person-centred support with mentoring and case management. This benefits both our community and the lives of those we interact with, especially in areas where there are significant skill shortages,” Mr Newell said.

Macquarie Community College Director, Sue Advani, said supporting migrant women has been one of her lifetime commitments and the reason she became involved with the College. “I encourage community networks and local agencies to get in touch with Macquarie Community College about this program. Participation in SKILLS4You could really make a difference and help migrant women find suitable employment in key growth areas.”

Macquarie Community College is under contract with the NSW State Government as a Smart and Skilled and Adult Community Education (ACE) provider, meaning the program is fee-free for eligible students. The College was also recently recognised by the NSW Department of Education as a High Performing Provider for Smart & Skilled.

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