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We Can Do It Again: Australian Fashion Brands Provide Jobs for Afghan Refugees | Australian fashion




An alliance of Australian fashion brands has called on the federal government to increase its humanitarian quota of Afghan refugees, promising the industry will help support, train and employ the new migrants.

Last month, the Australian government announced that 3,000 initial humanitarian places would be allocated to Afghan nationals, as the Taliban took control of the country and chaos erupted at Kabul airport.

In an open letter expected to be sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison later this month, nearly two dozen fashion brands, including Romance Was Born, The Upside, KitX, Ginger and Smart, Outland Denim and Witchery, have so far have added their brand signatures.

As a sector, we stand ready to help Afghan refugees build safe and fulfilling lives in Australia, the letter says.

This is something that we have already done. Australia has a long tradition of decisive and generous response to humanitarian crises, as evidenced by the special hosting of Kosovar Albanians in 1999 and Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War, as well as, more recently, the hosting of refugees from Syria. and Iraq.

Many members of these communities have been employed by the Australian fashion industry, especially in manufacturing, and we can do it again.

The letter also calls on the Prime Minister to grant permanent protection to all Afghan refugees and to prioritize family reunification for Australian residents and citizens, many of whom work in the garment industry with their immediate families in Afghanistan.

The open letter is part of a larger campaign, Voices for Afghanistan, led by Aus Fashion Aid, a collective established in 2021, initially to help Indian garment workers during the Covid crisis, and The Social Outfit, a clothing that has provided internships and / or jobs to over 300 refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East since 2014.

The Social Outfit CEO Camilla Schippa said Australia’s $ 27.2 billion fashion industry has a long history of employing migrant women, providing economic resilience and employment opportunities as their mastery of the economy l English is still in its infancy.

Schippa said the open letter to the prime minister was obvious, as the option of rallying the fashion industry for fundraising was impractical.

No money is reaching Afghanistan yet, people cannot even access their bank accounts, she said.

And we thought that the message to the government to increase its reception of Afghan refugees would be a much stronger appeal, if at the same time the industry says it is committed to doing what we can to employ them when they come.

Integration only really comes when you have a job.

Fashion designer Kit Willow, founder of the KitX label, said her company has a close relationship with The Social Outfit in Sydney and Melbournes Social Studio.

In Melbourne, many of its tailors come from the Sudanese community.

Many of them have had eight to ten children, they are single mothers and very capable, strong and amazing women, said Willow.

They have the skills of sewing but often don’t have the flexibility to work nine to five, so the Social Studio supports them and helps them stick to their schedule.

Shahida Haydari, 22, a business student at the University of Western Sydney, struggled to find a job when she arrived in Australia from Afghanistan via India in 2017.

The Social Outfit offered him a three-month paid internship.

It was a great opportunity for me, she says.

I didn’t even know the right process for finding a job when I arrived in Australia.

Lorrie Graham, Social Outfit Retail Trainer (second from right) with three Social Outfit interns (including Shahira's younger sister Zahra, left) at their graduation ceremony in May 2021.
Lorrie Graham, Social Outfit Retail Trainer (second from right) with three Social Outfit interns (including Shahira’s younger sister Zahra, left) at their graduation ceremony in May 2021. Photograph: Lorrie Graham / Lorrie Graham Photographer

Expecting to graduate next year, she hasn’t ruled out a second degree, possibly law. In five years, she says, she envisions an independent life.

Maybe I could have my own business, maybe I will work for an NGO, helping other refugees.

I could have my own house, be an Australian citizen, and be able to travel the world.




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