The sudden shrinkage of the labour market due to COVID-19 has left thousands of migrants and international students displaced, anxious and questioning their prospects to work in Australia. However, this time of crisis has exposed the selflessness that exists within the Indian Australian community with the emergence of a variety of initiatives, such as food drives, pro bono professional advice and free career counselling becoming widespread in the community.
With government responses, such as the Jobseeker package, failing to address the circumstances of international students, many have been left struggling to secure job opportunities to support themselves during this time. In the face of this, many international students and migrants have sought to reorient themselves within the disillusioning labour market to secure new jobs in new industries.
Whilst the government has cast these groups to the sidelines, the Australian Indian community has emerged united to provide much needed support during this time. One example of this is the Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN), who have recognised the anxiety that exists among migrants and international students regarding employment opportunities. In response, the organisation has launched a free online CV check program to help those in need during this time. YSPN has openly invited all members of the Australian Indian community to email their CVs to the team who will review it and provide feedback on how to be better positioned when applying for a job. This sewa (selfless service), has been running for over a year through monthly pop-ups at Glenwood Gurdwara. However, the recent social restrictions have prompted YSPN to digitise this CV check process, and through this the organisation has scaled the impact of this service. In the last two months alone, the organisation has assisted over 50 migrants through CV checks and career counselling. Participants of the program have expressed gratitude with YSPN’s sewa during this time, with one participant stating that ‘being new to the country and not knowing many professionals here has made it hard for me to know how to properly do my CV and how to prepare for job interviews. I am extremely grateful for the volunteers at YSPN who give up their time and offer their expertise to help us.’
Migrants and international students are currently also experiencing anxiety associated with financial distress, accommodation and visa concerns. YSPN has recognised that these conditions have the propensity to result in a surge of issues relating to mental and physical wellbeing. In light of this, YSPN has also recently launched a webinar series to address these issues that are impacting changes our personal and professional lives. Past webinar topics included ‘Maintaining Positive Wellbeing during COVID-19’ and ‘Re-emerging Personally and Professionally.’
Other community organisations were also quick to mobilise in response to the issues borne out of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, Khalsa Aid, Sikh Volunteers Australia and Turbans 4 Australia all jumped at the opportunity to help the needy by running food drives and food delivery services for the vulnerable in the community. Other organisations provided a lending hand to international students who were suffering financial hardship, such as the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) who offered to help international students pay rent for a fortnight early on in the crisis.
COVID-19 has had overwhelming impacts on the migrant and international student community, which has been compounded by the exclusivity of the government’s economic response. However, the past few months have unveiled the true character of the Australian Indian community as one that bands together, provides collective support and bolsters the community in a time of crisis.
Borderless and boundless, the YSPN online CV check now allows for participants from all across Australia and New Zealand to send their CVs in for review. If you want to send your CV or are seeking general career counselling, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to YSPN.org.au for more information about their COVID-19 response.