Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

Main Menu Search

Case Study: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

ProjectThe Asylum Seeker Centre for Employment and Enterprise Dandenong

Amount$280,000 total

Date2013 & 2015


These grants were approved under our previous grants policy
Building capacity Build employment pathways for asylum seekers. Evolve the Centres’ own practices to establish the most effective service delivery systems
Extending opportunity Deliver critical education and employment services that support asylum seekers’ rights to work
Collaboration and partnership Partnerships established with City of Greater Dandenong, Chisholm & Holmesglen TAFEs, Dandenong Library, Monash Health, Foundation House, Victoria Police and many others

Supporting asylum seekers living in south eastern Melbourne to be active participants in our community

Melbourne’s suburbs are experiencing a significant rise in the number of asylum seekers, 60 per cent of whom are settling in the Dandenong region. Many are in desperate circumstances, eager to work, but unable to find jobs because they have limited English, no education pathway or no access to employment services. In September 2013, the Asylum Seeker Centre Dandenong launched the region’s first accessible training and employment service.

Image ASRC Graduation Day, Dandenong, November 2013

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is the largest asylum seeker assistance organisation in Australia. There are an estimated 10,000 asylum seekers living in Victoria and over 2,000 of these in Dandenong alone. With 30 specialised programs and services, the ASRC gives asylum seekers the tools they need to thrive in an Australian setting.

ASRC’s Dandenong employment service was launched in 2013, after local Hazara and Tamil community representatives reported an increasing number of male asylum seekers arriving in desperate circumstances but, despite their eagerness to use skills ranging from farming labour to civil engineering, unable to find jobs.

HMSTrust provided a grant of $80,000 for the first year of this innovative employment pathways pilot. The pilot was an outstanding success with more than double the number of 360 anticipated clients through the doors in its first year. In 2015, HMSTrust approved a second grant of $200,000 for a further two years to take the program beyond pilot stage.


  • Since opening, the Dandenong Centre has welcomed close to 1,500 asylum seekers through its doors
  • Focusing on education and employment, the Centre delivers it programs via 80 volunteers and 3.2EFT staff
  • The program delivers a condensed, intensive service to clients through a pathways model of various types of English classes, resume training, vocational skills sessions, job application assistance, continued monitoring and support
  • It has set up a self-paced online English program with AMES and Dandenong Library
  • In conjunction with Victoria Police established a Leadership Program about leadership, citizenship and being a valued member of our society; as well as a Driving Program
  • Runs a weekly Job Network Hub for members who are job-ready but require ‘light touch’ support whilst job searching
  • Established numerous partnerships and collaborations with civic, health and employer groups


“Through the generosity of the Trust, ASRC Dandenong it is now a reality and so is our vision and purpose to transform the lives of asylum seekers by moving them from poverty to self-reliance,” says the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis.