Category: Refugee

Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre Championed by Ukrainian Refugee

By Gemma Grant

A language school in Carlton North has been praised by a Ukrainian refugee, after it helped him secure employment following his displacement to Australia.

Denys, along with wife Veronika and son Artem, lived in Kharkiv – only 50 kilometres from the Russian border. In early 2022, they were forced to seek refuge after Russia’s invasion became full-scale.

“We were taken to the very centre of Melbourne, where housing and everything we needed to start life were already waiting for us… this helped us a lot, as we only had one suitcase with us and I only had the clothes I had flown to Melbourne in,” Denys said.

It was during the refugee’s job search that he came across the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre. He was impressed by the “excellent English language school,” and said its lessons allowed him to improve his English to a professional level.

“The teachers at this school are golden, they are sympathetic to all the problems of their students… [it] is one of those places in Australia that left a good memory in my heart,” Denys said.

Even with the help of the centre, finding employment was difficult. The Ukrainian responded to over 800 job listings – only receiving a handful of interviews. Visa issues were often cited as the reasons behind rejection.

“I still have a letter from one of the largest companies where they refuse to employ me despite passing the tests, due to the fact that my family has a temporary visa,” Denys said.

After a year and a half of searching, Denys successfully found a job. He has enjoyed the new challenge, and is grateful for the opportunity he has been given.

“I have been working in this company for 4 months, I am learning a new profession and making progress. I am also happy to work in a wonderful team and a company where I am appreciated,” he said.

When it comes to what other people should prioritise when settling in Australia, English lessons were at the top of Denys’ list.

“The advice I can give… is to improve your level of English, because of course, without it, you will not be able to successfully pass the interview.”

“Don’t give up, try, try and try again… employers are [people just like us] and often, they are ready to train you even from scratch, if you are ready to learn,” he said.

Above all, the Ukrainian is excited to live peacefully with his family in their new Melbourne community.

“Australia is a country of kindness, a country of opportunity, a country ready to help in difficult times. My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity to be in Australia.”

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