Disability Employment Australia. Represent, Support, Resource

Employment stories

'I am a new person' - Suguna, Amala and Mano's story - Ostara Australia

Since fleeing their country and coming to Australia for a better life, Tamil refugees, Suguna, Amala and Mano’s story highlights just how much their lives have been transformed.

After her father and two brothers were arrested and tortured by the Sri Lankan army, Suguna and her brother escaped Sri Lanka by boat, arriving to Australia as refugees. They were originally detained at Christmas Island together and spent a total of 16 months in detention, until Suguna was released and eventually granted a Permanent Residency Visa in June 2012. 

Amala and her sister-in-law Mano came to Australia by boat as refugees in November 2010.  Amala’s 15 year old son has been missing since 2005.  Mano brought her three children, however her husband has been missing since 2006.  After spending 6 months in various detention centres, both women were eventually granted permanent residency together in April 2012.

Speaking very little English and living in a completely new country, whilst coping with the emotional and mental trauma experienced over the past decade, these women have overcome huge obstacles by both settling in Australia and recently, finding jobs.

Upon receiving their Permanent Residency, they all sought assistance through Disability Employment Services provider, Ostara Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that assists disadvantaged job seekers with finding suitable employment, whilst also working in collaboration with mental health professionals who address any cultural, emotional or mental issues being faced.

Ostara Australia invited Suguna, Amala and Mano to join their new program “Work For Wellness”, a powerful six week program created to build participants confidence and self esteem through practical workshops, whilst also offering support through counselling and mentoring.  During the course, the women learnt important employment skills, such as developing readiness to work, whilst also learning about how to dress for work and building self confidence and self appreciation.  The course was run through the assistance of translators in both the training and counselling sessions.

Upon completion in December last year, the program facilitators were thrilled with the transformations.  Whilst previously worried, quiet, lacking in direction and unsure of how they would manage in a new country without support from friends and family, these women now displayed new found confidence and self esteem, and expressed a positive outlook around finding employment and managing in a new environment.

Mano wrote  “I suffered a lot in the hands of the Sri Lankan Army during the civil war which I could not share with anyone else in the past, including my psychologists.  I kept everything to myself.  This was the first time I shared my horrible experiences.  After this, I felt a huge burden off my shoulders and I am relieved now.  This program has given me strength, confidence and self esteem. I am a new person after this program”.

Suguna has been working as a kitchen hand at Café Roco, whilst Amala was recently thrilled to start her first day of work at Capri Direct Curtains.  Mano also commenced work after the program, however has since taken a break due to health reasons.

Ostara Australia works with all job seekers and their employers post placement to ensure there is a successful transition and that both parties receive as much support as may be required.  We wish Suguna, Amala and Mano the very best for their future lives in Australia.

Go to: Ostara's website