Norman’s Story 

“I don’t really blame Australian employers for the attitude they have,” says Norman. “When someone comes from a different place, it’s natural to want them to prove themselves.”

But, when it comes to creating better work opportunities for immigrants – including refugees and people seeking asylum – what Norman would like to see employers in Australia do better is to look for people’s success and then celebrate it, rather than focus on what they may not be getting right immediately.

If you want someone to prove themselves to you, you need to stop looking for their mistakes,” he says. “Because once you look for their mistakes, you will see more. Instead, Australian employers could look for the successes that these people bring to their roles, and then support them to create greater success.”

Before coming to Australia from Uganda in 2017, Norman worked as a journalist and communications specialist and enjoyed a successful career that saw him cover four Olympic Games, as well as other high-profile sporting and international events.

He began volunteering with the ASRC and then worked with the organisation’s Employment Program to help him refine his CV in a way that was relevant to local employers. Norman worked with mentors to help him create a plan to secure stable work that would enable him to support himself, without the stress of worrying about how to pay his household bills.

Through ongoing connections with the ASRC and the chance to communicate with people who were keen to support his integration into the local community, Norman’s conversational English skills also improved dramatically.

Although he’d hoped to find work within the journalism sector he had been trained for, Norman admits to finding his inability to work in Australian media was frustrating – but also understandable. The cultural differences around attitudes to work have also taken some getting used to.
His current role in the health sector is focused on working with young people supporting them in realising their full potential. This experience has given Norman the motivation to contemplate a new future. These plans include doing further studies to help him pursue a rewarding and fulfilling career that draws on his proven experience as a journalist, combined with his interest in addressing issues facing youth in Australia today.

Of course, sometimes it is tough when you are finding your way in a new country and not able to work in the career you used to have. But I never lose hope. Hope will come – because, with support and determination, no situation is permanent. Even when it is winter, there are always some days of sunshine,” says Norman, who believes that getting secure employment – even if it’s not your dream job – is an important first step.

“When people have a job – even if it is not the perfect job for them to start with – it gives them hope to take the next step and the next step and the next step,” he says.

With the help and support from the team at the ASRC, Norman says he is grateful for the opportunities he has been given access to, including working with an employer who truly believed in him.

“They told me: ‘You can do this’, and that made a big difference,” Norman says. “It is good to have someone support you and make you believe in yourself.”

If you empathise with Norman’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 Norman.

Pledge Your Name to Welcome Refugees
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.