Multiple nationalities make for vibrant workplace

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Multiple nationalities make for vibrant workplace

Working at Launceston’s thriving Blueline laundry is a bit like working at a mini United Nations.

The laundry boasts staff from more than 10 nationalities speaking 15 different languages, according to operations manager Darrin Geard.

Workers are from a variety of backgrounds including from Bhutan, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Libya, Eritrea, Pakistan, South Sudan, Russia, Nepal and Australia.

“It is all about providing opportunities,” Mr Geard said.

“Sometimes we have to work around significant cultural event and dates for individual workers. We acknowledge that there are different requirements and different needs, and respond to that in the work place.”

Mr Geard said that in the past 12 months, Blueline had worked with both CatholicCare Tasmania (through its Safe Haven Hub program) and the Migrant Resource Centre on employment opportunities.

“Some staff transferred from work experience programs into casual employment, and some are now permanent part-time employees,” Mr Geard said.

“Because we are an employer of people with disabilities, we always make it clear from the start - whether applicants are from here or overseas - that they are working with people with disabilities. We do a lot of disability awareness training in-house.

“Some of our people have come here after extensive periods of time in refugee camps. No matter what their backgrounds, all the staff make a positive contribution and the majority have a good grasp of English language. One staff member said that his English was improving more quickly here than in language classes.

“It is very multicultural: a very vibrant place to work.”

CatholicCare’s Safe Haven Hub program is funded by the state government and has been operating in Launceston and Hobart since September 2016. The scheme aims to develop and support pathways to employment, education, and training for former refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

The Launceston-based co-ordinator, Rhonda McCoy, has 27 clients in the North and North West and has assisted a number in finding casual, on-going or volunteer work.