Today, it’s believed that upwards of 150,000 Tibetans are living as refugees, displaced from their homes and scattered throughout the world.
After fleeing his home in Tibet, Tenzin Phutsok sought refuge in India. Presently, India is believed to host up to 120,000 Tibetan refugees, including the Dalai Lama.
In the short term, the AMEP was an opportunity for Tenzin to develop his English and begin his settlement in Australia. In the long term, it was a pathway to his ideal career.
After commencing class at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus, Tenzin quickly gained recognition for his passionate commitment to human rights. Ultimately, he told teachers, he hoped to gain a position within foreign affairs.
TAFE Queensland staff were quick to encourage Tenzin’s interest. Through the AMEP, Tenzin was offered a place in the Work Ready program, which introduces migrants and refugees to the Australian workforce.
It was through Work Ready that Tenzin finally began realising his career goals. Alongside his English classes, Tenzin participated in 40 hours of work experience at the Queensland Human Rights Commission.
Tenzin worked under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner Neroli Holmes, and was tasked with developing an analytical research paper.
"With the launch of the new Human Rights Act, Tenzin wrote a paper comparing and contrasting the right for health in different parts of the world," said the Deputy Commissioner.
"He also attended meetings and observed the different work that staff do within the organisation."
Deputy Commissioner Holmes also commented on the positive impacts of introducing migrants like Tenzin to the Australian workforce.
"I think it’s extremely important to see how the workplace operates. It’s so important to make contacts and to build that confidence," she said.
"Tenzin produced good written work during his time here. Really, it’s a win-win for everybody."
After his foray into the workforce, Tenzin is even more determined to achieve his goal.
"I'm so grateful for the chance to participate in this work placement," Tenzin said.
"I was able to earn experience in the field I not only look towards for a future career, but am also so passionate in."
He has submitted an application to study International Relations at university in 2020, and in the interim, hopes to complete his AMEP studies and volunteer at a local electoral office.
For thousands of new migrants and refugees, the Adult Migrant English Program is a chance to change their lives. For Tenzin, it was the chance to find his voice in a new country – and one day, perhaps, to change the lives of future generations.
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered through TAFE Queensland.