Marjan’s Story 

As a young child in Iran, Marjan’s imagination was captured by the creative world of theatre, film and television – and she decided that she would grow up to be part of it.

Before she arrived in Australia in 2013 at the age of 25, Marjan had made that childhood dream come true and was working in the film and television industry as a costume designer and director’s assistant since she was 14 years old.
But despite the occasionally glamorous nature of her former professional life — travelling to locations and shoots as part of the thriving Iranian entertainment industry — when Marjan came to Australia as a refugee, she faced barriers to the employment sector that was such an important part of who she was.

“I felt like I had to start from less than zero – and that’s only just starting to change,” says Marjan.

Struggling with a new language, finding her way around a new city and dealing with the bureaucracy that comes with having a protection visa, all while being the primary carer of her son, were some of the challenges she faced from day one.

After discovering the support of the ASRC, Marjan began her journey into the Australian workforce with small steps.

The employment team at ASRC helped her find a job, and Marjan enrolled in a course that taught her how to create a resume and a LinkedIn profile that highlighted the professional skills, experience and traits that Australian employers valued.

Marjan has since worked in a range of roles, from fundraising for a charity organisation to customer service with a popular brand of jeans, to being a barista in an office building and working within the social media marketing space.

Currently, she works in administration for a busy cleaning company.

Although they are not directly linked to Marjan’s unwavering passion for the arts industry, Marjan has chosen to look for the positives each new employment experience delivers.

“These jobs opened doors for me – and each new job added to my experience that gave Australian employers more confidence in me, and me more confidence in myself,” she says.

But for Marjan, having a job means so much more than improved self-confidence.

“For me, as a single mother, I can spend time with my son and pay for everything I need. It is hope. It makes your mental health better.”

Her connection with ASRC is now more important than ever, and Marjan is thrilled to be part of a 12-month mentoring program the centre facilitated for her, to help support her goal to return to the film and television industry she was trained for. Going back to being in the industry won’t be easy, but she is hopeful and determined to make the necessary connections to prove her talent.

Marjan also wanted people reading her story to know that many refugees like her have a type of visa that makes her ineligible to access funded courses, so exploring pathways to retraining and meaningful employment is not as straightforward for refugees and people seeking asylum, as for other people in the community.

“After being here ten years, it should be easier,” Marjan says. “I work full-time and try hard and pay my taxes as a full-time employee, but my visa makes it hard because I am not a resident.”

Despite her frustration with the system, Marjan is thankful to live in safety with her son and appreciates all the support the ASRC and her employers have given her so far.

“Nobody puts their hand up to become a refugee and pack up their belongings and leave their family to come to a new place and start with nothing,” says Marjan. “My goal is to work in the local film and television industry within the next five years. All I need is an employer in the industry to give me a chance.”

If you empathise with Marjan’s story and you want to find out tips and ways to make the workforce more welcoming for refugees, fill out the form and download the resource.

You can also get in touch through the form by leaving a message of welcome for Marjan.

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Into the Workforce

The ASRC would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation as traditional owners and custodians of the land on which the ASRC stands. We acknowledge that the land was never ceded and we pay our respect to them, their customs, their culture, to elders past and present and to their emerging leaders.

This landing page is part of the campaign ‘Welcome Refugees into the Workforce’; an awareness campaign created as part of a partnership between ASRC and Yarra Trams which provides free tram wraps to community organisations making a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in Melbourne. The ASRC’s WELCOME tram wrap will feature on a wrapped tram that will travel on tram routes 48 and 109 in Melbourne from June to September 2023.