April Pan manages the employment support programs with Metro Assist. A community services organisation with 33 years of history serving the local communities in Inner West, Canterbury and Bankstown. Their employment services help migrants, refugees and parents with young children to find jobs to support their families.
This is her story.
I was born and grew up in Guangzhou, or Canton, the capital city of Guangdong province in South China. A metropolitan city with a population of over 20 million tody and only an hour away from Hong Kong on a high-speed train.
In the 80’s and 90’s, the city and the province went through massive transformation following China’s ‘Open Door’ economic policies. Tens of thousands of entrepreneurs set up their business and many industries blossomed. We welcomed millions of migrant workers from all over the country and these workers became the backbone of the economy and main supply of labour, doing the hardest and lowest paid labour which ‘city people’ didn’t want to do. These migrant workers overcame unimaginable adversity and made our city home. Canton wouldn’t have been the prosperous metropolis without their contribution and sacrifice.
Today in Australia, when confronted with political and media discourse of cutting immigration and “high level of immigration is contributing to over-development and congestion”, I often think of my hometown where domestic migration over the past three decades has no doubt changed the culture and fabrics of the city and made our city much more diverse. In Sydney we can enjoy Aussie and international cuisine all year round. Cultural festivals are held in all corners in town. Immigrants bring in enormous economic benefits by contributing to the education and other sectors and providing labour for many industries. They also introduce social changes by challenging stereotypes and help make our society much more inclusive and diverse.
This is what my passion is and what motivates me every day. I came to Australia with my family in 2007. I was a marketing and communication manager for a large international organisation for many years, but I couldn’t find a job in my field after many months of trying and many interviews. At one point I was even volunteering full time to gain local work experience, but it still wasn’t enough. I decided to go back to University to do something completely different as I always had a big passion for social justice. I completed my postgraduate degree with UNSW and found my first job in the community sector in 2009. From there I never looked back.
Today I manage our employment support programs here with Metro Assist. We work with clients individually to understand their needs, their circumstances and the barriers that are stopping them from getting the job they want. We run employment readiness programs, vocational courses and work with businesses and employers directly to link people to opportunities. I really hope I can lead my team to strengthen and expand our services and help many more migrant and refugee job seekers to find the jobs they want.
Employment is very close to my heart because of my own job seeking experience and it’s my passion to help make my fellow migrants’ job seeking journey easier.
“Having a job is the most important step of settlement for migrants and it is also an important symbol of who they are and where they belong in their new country.“