Media Release by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

New $1.5 m upcycling project to create job opportunities for unemployed migrants and refugees in Cairns

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Entsch MP, Federal Member for Leichhardt

Unemployed migrants and refugees in Cairns will have the opportunity to create unique products and gain an income through an ‘upcycling’ social enterprise project aimed at reducing welfare dependency.

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, and MP for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, today jointly announced $1.5 million to trial the UpCycLinc project, as part of the Liberal National Government’s Try, Test and Learn Fund.

“Upcycling, also known as creative recycling, is a successful business model that involves taking discarded objects and materials and turning them into valuable products that can then be sold,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Through the UpCycLinc project, up to 180 migrants and refugees will refurbish household and commercial goods, including soft furnishings and turn them into sustainable furniture pieces, textiles and artwork.

“With a focus on entrepreneurship, the project will provide an online and physical shop front where participants can market their refurbished products and sell them to make an income.”

Mr Entsch said a percentage of sales will go to participants with a percentage being invested back into the social enterprise.

“I’m delighted to see this innovative project being funded,” Mr Entsch said.

“Centacare Far North Queensland (FNQ) will run the UpCycLinc project over 17 months.”

Centacare FNQ’s Executive Director, Anita Veivers, said that Centacare FNQ has worked with people from migrant and refugee backgrounds for over 30 years and that employment is a high priority during settlement.

“Migrants and refugees often face a number of barriers that can lead to long-term unemployment, such as lack of skills, education, English proficiency, local experience and references, and recognising and addressing these barriers can assist access to the workforce.

“Through the UpCycLinc project, participants will be supported to help build their employment and business skills to launch their own enterprises, become financially independent and take advantage of Australian work opportunities.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said that Cairns is an established settlement location for refugee and humanitarian entrants, with more than 1,000 people settled in 2017.

“Migrants and refugees come to Australia with unique skills and expertise, which are extremely valuable to businesses, yet they often struggle to gain employment. Creative ideas like the UpCycLinc project offer participants pathways to employment, self-sustainability and that all important community engagement,” Mr Entsch said.

Migrants and refugees in Cairns can learn more about the UpCycLinc project at Centacare FNQ.