• Leaders from Australia’s pre-eminent institutions will ‘sponsor’ and mentor up to 70 aspiring leaders from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds
  • Deakin University’s CREATE will facilitate hands-on graduate career clinics and empower refugees to succeed with practical skills ready for the workplace
  • Only 17% of people from a refugee background secure paid employment within their first 18 months in Australia

March 2021 Crescent Foundation is partnering with Deakin University’s Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) to help remove barriers to employment for individuals from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

The partnership will see members of the Crescent Champions Club – an initiative of the Crescent Foundation – mentor up to 70 individuals from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds through Deakin University’s CREATE, which will be funded by the Foundation. The partnership will also assist Deakin CREATE to build on its current research and drive new research into how people from a refugee background can best re-establish their careers after arriving in a host nation.

The Crescent Champions Club nurtures determined individuals from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds by pairing them with prominent business and academic leaders that guide their journey towards career success and leadership.

Crescent Champions Club members include senior leaders in prominent Australian institutions, such as the Australian Government, NAB, Clayton Utz, Crescent Wealth, Fortescue Metals Group, and the University of Sydney. Champions provide their time, networks and knowledge to the next generation.

One of the most significant challenges faced by individuals from a refugee background is achieving post-resettlement employment that matches their skills and abilities. Research shows that 18 months after arriving in Australia, only 17% of people from a refugee background have secured paid employment1.

Individuals from a refugee background face significant barriers in obtaining employment on arrival in host countries, like Australia, due to a lack of local work experience and local networks, a lack of knowledge on workplace culture and systems, and the non-recognition of their skills, qualifications and experience from overseas.

Deakin University CREATE was established in early 2019 and has already had significant impact on the lives of people from a refugee background. In early 2020 it launched a careers clinic program which supports over 150 people a year to find employment and re-establish their livelihoods. In 2020 alone, it assisted over 60 people to obtain work commensurate with their skills and experience.

The Hon. Bob Carr, Former Foreign Minister of Australia and presiding Chair of the Crescent Foundation, said: “As a charity that is dedicated to open opportunity for all Australians and particularly for refugees, we were impressed by the commitment of Deakin University to dedicate substantial resources to this cause.

“We hope our support of Deakin University will encourage other private sector corporations and institutions to come forward to help facilitate the inclusion of refugees into the workplace and break through the canvas ceiling faced by refugees.”

Alexander Newman, Director of Deakin University’s CREATE said ensuring many more refugees find meaningful employment not only benefits the individuals themselves, but also makes a significant positive impact on the wider Australian economy.

“It reduces the need for social security support, contributes to economic output, builds the tax-base and improves social cohesion. Australian communities and businesses benefit from accessing a larger, more diverse talent pool with a broad range of experiences,” Professor Newman said.

“Deakin University and its Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) is looking forward to working with the Crescent Foundation to support graduates from a refugee background to launch their careers in Australia. We thank the Crescent Foundation for their wonderful support.”

Craig Foster, Director, Crescent Foundation said: “Refugees display characteristics which make them highly desirable employees. They display greater entrepreneurial qualities than other migrants, generating a far higher proportion of their income from their own businesses which in turn contributes to broader economic growth.

“They volunteer at higher rates than Australian-born citizens and are highly active in other forms of community engagement. Their uptake of Australian citizenship is higher than any other migrant group, reflecting integration into Australian communities and culture. They also tend to be proportionately younger than the broader Australian population with more prime working years ahead of them.”


Crescent Foundation, a charity dedicated to open opportunity to everyone in Australia supports refugee education, helps the homeless, promotes the conservation of Islamic art and culture and promotes democracy, civics and youth causes. Crescent Foundation counts on its board prominent Australian leaders including The Hon Bob Carr, former foreign minister and the longest serving Premier of New South Wales and Craig Foster, former Socceroos star and SBS commentator, Penny Bingham-Hall, non-executive director at some of Australia’s largest organisations amongst others. A major supporter of the Foundation is Islamic superannuation fund Crescent Wealth, led by Managing Director Talal Yassine OAM, who is also a Crescent Foundation Company Director. The Foundation was established in 2011 and began distributing funds to Not-For-Profit organisations from 2013. Among the initiatives that the foundation has supported include:

  • Delivering a leadership scholarship program to assist refugees to enhance their qualifications to join the workforce and better transition into professional life in Australia.
  • Supporting Scouts NSW so children from refugee families can participate in scouting.
  • Supporting the Thrive Refugee Enterprise which helps refugees and asylum seekers start their own small businesses in Australia,
  • Supporting Sanctuary Australia Foundation, which helps refugees from war-torn areas with aspects of settlement, including education, employment and housing.
  • Partnering with several organisations and programs to help the homeless, including The Big Issue, an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives.
  • Supports the Islamic Museum of Australia, based in Victoria, which showcases the artistic and cultural heritage of Muslims in Australia, as well as the University of Melbourne Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation, which preserves significant Islamic manuscripts dating to the 13th

More information about the foundation can be found here:


The Deakin University’s Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) is the first university-based research centre worldwide focusing on supporting people from a refugee background to access education and obtain employment. This involves a range of activities including running careers clinics, developing employment and education guides and materials, and holding one-on-one consultations with individuals who seeking career or educational guidance. CREATE also employs students from a refugee background as research assistants in the development of initiatives, ensuring refugees’ ‘lived experiences’ are considered in their design.

CREATE was established in early 2019 and has had significant impact on the lives of people from a refugee background. In early 2020 it launched a careers clinic program which supports over 150 people a year to find employment and re-establish their livelihoods. In 2020 alone it assisted over 60 people to obtain work commensurate with their skills and experience. CREATE has also produced an employment guide to educate employers on the benefits of hiring people from a refugee background and the steps they might take to do so. In addition, it has published guides for people from a refugee background looking to access higher education in Australia and for higher education institutions on how to best support such individuals. Through hosting information workshops on how to access higher education, it assists around 40 individuals a year to access higher education in Victoria.

More information about CREATE can be found here:

[1]Centre for Policy Development. (2017). Settling better report: Reforming refugee employment and settlement services.


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Ethical Finance and Innovation

Dr. Sayd Farook is the Executive Director of Crescent Foundation. He is Group Chief Operating Officer of Crescent Wealth and Managing Director of Crescent Finance. He previously served as Advisor to the Executive Office of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. In this capacity, he envisioned and executed strategic / transformation initiatives for Dubai and the UAE. Prior to that, he was the Global Head Islamic Capital Markets at Thomson Reuters, where he advised and served large corporates, multilaterals and governments in the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia.

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