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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3054


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (16:34): People in Melbourne's African-Australian communities have for a long time told me about the barriers that exist in securing employment. Too often I have heard stories of qualified people sending off dozens of resumes without a response, and it is only when they change their name from Mohammed to David on the application that the phone starts ringing. So I am very excited about an important development that is taking place in Melbourne.

On 21 November I will officially launch the Melbourne Employment Forum, an organisation that is controlled, managed and staffed by members of the African Australian communities. It is a non-profit organisation that provides a one-stop shop where jobseekers can be connected with jobs, training or placements. It also works with employers to bridge gaps that exist in the employment system. Because it is controlled by the community, the Melbourne Employment Forum understands the issues facing jobseekers better than anyone, and it is already having great success in getting people into jobs.

I would like to congratulate the board and the staff of the Melbourne Employment Forum. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the important leadership of its chairperson, Abeselom Nega, who has worked tirelessly to build this important community asset. I would also like to thank the City of Melbourne for providing funding and to acknowledge the important support of Greens Councillor Cathy Oke. I have been very proud to work with you all. To businesses and other employers in Melbourne: get in touch with the MEF, because there are great opportunities for you. To my parliamentary colleagues I say: this is the time to pay attention to the Melbourne Employment Forum, because this outstanding community-controlled initiative may be a model to follow around Australia.