Woolworths welcomes 42 refugees into its Brisbane team

Woolworths has welcomed 42 refugees to its Customer Fulfillment Centre in Rochedale as part of its Refugee Employment Program.

The new recruits come from a range of countries including Afghanistan, Burundi, the Congo, and Ukraine, with most working as ‘personal shoppers’ picking and packing online orders.

Catherine Hunter, General Manager for Inclusion at Woolworths Group, said they are grateful to have the support of the new team members who are helping to boost its online capacity in Brisbane.

“In the current job market, engaging our refugee communities is not only the right thing to do, but it’s an important source of untapped potential as we hire new team members to help us meet the growing needs of our customers.”

Carmen Garcia, CEO of Community Corporate, the organisation that connects Woolworths with refugees, said the leadership Woolworths has shown is driven by a genuine desire to build inclusive communities and support refugees to create a better life for themselves and their families in Australia through financial independence.

“What is so unique about this program is that hiring refugees is part of Woolworths Group’s strategic workforce plan.

“Refugees face many barriers to employment, including a lack of local work experience, but this partnership provides paid on-the-job training that allows them to demonstrate their ability and be hired on merit.”

Hon Andrew Giles MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs said that this program is a prime example of the ways that Australia can become more welcoming and inclusive to refugees. 

“It is a reminder to us all – in cities, regions, business and of course, government – that we must strive to do better at welcoming new migrants and refugees into our communities.”

Since 2018, Woolworths has welcomed over 250 refugees into its teams across its supermarkets, Metros, CFCs, and Digital and Technology.

The current group is made up of people aged from their early 20s to over 50, with more than 60 per cent being women. They include those looking for permanent employment and those seeking stable employment while they gain local qualifications in their prior careers, such as Sahil.

Sahil was a qualified doctor in Afghanistan who migrated to Australia with his wife in 2021 following the Taliban’s overthrow of the Afghan government. Sahil is currently studying to become an accredited doctor in Australia – a process that will take another two years.

“Woolworths was one of the first companies I knew about in Australia. When I arrived a Woolworths supermarket was one of the first places I went to. 

“From that day I liked this brand, the workers, and the environment. From the beginning I wanted to work for such a great company – all Australians know Woolworths and it’s a great environment and place to work,” said the 25-year-old.

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