Business skills program for refugees

06 Jan 2017

Refugees and other members of Newcastle's multicultural community will receive free skills training to help them establish their own businesses as part of a project run by Newcastle City Council with local partners.

The Multicultural Small Business Program will see around 12 refugees and immigrants attend workshops over a 10-week program from February 2017 to help them set up and run small businesses in Newcastle and the Hunter, where it can be hard for newcomers to find work.

The workshops will help build capacity to establish and run small businesses, provide ongoing support through mentoring and build the profile of their enterprises.

Together with project partners The Business Centre, Navitas, Northern Settlement Services and volunteer mentors, Council will run two parallel courses for refugees and migrants with strong English skills and another in Arabic.

"Migrants to Newcastle, including our most recent arrivals, have brought much needed skills, labour and ideas to our city," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"The Multicultural Business Program has been designed to help highly capable people harness these skills to support their families in a foreign country where business practices, cultural customs, rules and regulations are all new to them.

"Refugees and other members of the multicultural community have given us much of the energy, ingenuity and enterprise that makes Newcastle what it is today and this program aligns with the Multicultural Plan adopted by council last March to promote and celebrate multicultural diversity while contributing to positive economic outcomes.

"The program still needs more mentors to provide the participants with ongoing support, so I am appealing to business people in Newcastle and those with foreign language skills, particularly Arabic, to help us with this great initiative."

Business people interested in volunteering as mentors for the Multicultural Business Program should contact Jill Gaynor at Newcastle City Council on 4974 2222 or

The program follows another by Council last year to teach Syrian refugees how to bicycle safely in Australia.

Newcastle City Council teamed up with CatholicCare and other support agencies to teach recently arrived refugees how to ride on local streets.

Refugee dads completed a Cycle Skills Workshop for beginners at New Lambton after CatholicCare committed to getting the men and their families mobile on two wheels.

As part of the program, around 35 refugees received bicycles and council's help through training to ensure they understand Australian road rules.

The Lord Mayor will officially launch the Multicultural Small Business Program on 16 February.