Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (12:24): This week is Refugee Week. Originally celebrated in 1986, the week coincides with World Refugee Day on 20 June each year. This year’s theme is celebrating the Year of Welcome, and I think we can all be proud in this chamber that Victoria has a long history of welcoming refugees into this community. In my own portfolio of training and skills this government is proud to fund the asylum seeker VET program. This program helps asylum seekers on bridging visa Es, safe haven enterprise visas and temporary protection visas to participate in vocational education by giving access to concessional and subsidy rates. In other words, eligible asylum seekers are exempt from the usual citizenship and residency citizenship criteria. Eligible asylum seekers can also access free TAFE, breaking down cost barriers for those who most need it.
I am really proud that approximately 1000 asylum seekers accessed this initiative in 2019. One such student who has participated in VET is Mujahid. He fled the Taliban’s advance in Pakistan. After a period of time in offshore detention and processing on the Australian mainland, he was placed on a bridging visa E. After being granted work and study rights, he was assisted through the program to enrol in a certificate IV in education support. He successfully completed the course and quickly found work as a teaching assistant at an independent high school. He is now proudly working and has the ability to contribute back to the community. Stories like this show the power of training, giving people the chance to make a new life for themselves and their families. Victoria is a better state because we welcome refugees.