Julian Jeyakumar moved to Australia in 1996 as a young, skilled migrant looking for a fresh start. He soon learned that the journey would be more challenging than he first expected.
“When I arrived in Australia I thought my qualification in Mechanical Engineering from England would be highly regarded here,” says Julian.
“But it was quite the opposite. Everyone wanted local work experience before they would hire me.”
“I wondered how I’d find a job when I didn’t have any local work experience. I finally got an opportunity in a temporary job at the Department of Human Services, working in the filing room.”
Julian made his way from filing into the role of a Customer Service Officer and the rest, as they say, is history.
“In 2006 I started working as a Multicultural Service Officer (MSO) in our Auburn office in Sydney. I’ve been there ever since.”
As an MSO Julian helps customers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds access payments and services from the department.
“We work out what our customers need to settle in Australia and we show them what’s available,” he explains.
“Some new migrants and refugees come from completely different cultures, so we never underestimate their strength.”
For Julian, an important part of building trust with his customers is making sure never to judge a book by its cover.
“Their English skills might not be great or they may have an accent, but they might be qualified as a doctor or an engineer…how can you tell?” he says.
“I always give customers information in their language and promote our Express Plus apps, because often it turns out they are computer whizzes back home.”
Julian also facilitates Multicultural Awareness training for Customer Service Officers in the department to help them deliver better services to CALD customers.
“We encourage them to learn about different cultures within their communities so they can assist and treat all customers respectfully.”
“As MSOs, it’s our job to listen to the community. This means building trust, and trust begins with respect.”
Julian has plenty of advice for new migrants and thinks his experience can help others in their journeys forward.
“My advice to migrants looking for work is to find volunteer work,” he says.
“Once you have that experience, that foot in the door, you’ll find it easier to enter the work force.”
And even though Julian isn’t working as a mechanical engineer these days, he is proud to be working for the department.
“It’s very rewarding, I get to make a difference and change people’s lives during a time of need.”
“I love it. Being an MSO is the best job in the department.”