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Starting over


The Given the Chance program has allowed me to reconnect with one of the things I have loved the most in my life, which is the law. Every day I wake up so happy to be working in this incredible organisation, with such an amazing team.” *Luisa, Given the Chance program participant. 


Living in the South American country of Colombia, Luisa* and her husband Miguel* enjoyed a good life - Luisa working as a senior corporate lawyer and Miguel as a business administrator in a bank.


Sadly, they were forced to flee their hometown of Bogota along with their friends and family after a criminal cartel that had tried to pressure Miguel to work for them began making repeated death threats. They arrived in Melbourne in 2017.


Arriving in Melbourne as asylum seekers, Luisa and Miguel had to start again – in a city where they knew no one and, in Luisa's case, didn’t speak the language.


A chance encounter


The first few years were tough as Luisa struggled with the language barrier. At night she studied hard and learnt English and during the day she worked in a range of jobs, including as a cleaner and babysitter.


Despite applying for corporate jobs, she kept missing out and was losing confidence in her abilities. As asylum seekers, seeking employment in Australia was completely foreign to Luisa and Miguel. With no support network and only themselves to rely on, they felt incredibly isolated and alone.


A chance encounter at a friend’s party in early 2021 changed everything.


Luisa met an ANZ employee who told her about the Given the Chance program.


The next day Luisa spoke to the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) about the program and with the ANZ employee referral, talked with a senior member of the ANZ Legal team.


Shortly after, Luisa commenced a placement with ANZ’s Legal team, working as a paralegal.


Given the Chance


Given the Chance is a social enterprise supporting disadvantaged jobseekers into paid employment by partnering with a variety of business across different industries.


Since 2007 ANZ has worked with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) to support refugees and asylum seekers into six to twelve-month work placements through the Given the Chance program.


The work placement program provides job seekers with invaluable local experience to assist them enter the Australian workforce. Given the Chance participants are highly engaged, skilled and motivated and make a positive contribution to their team, the bank and their community.




Recently, Luisa's placement ended after she accepted an offer to join the team on a two-year contract. According to Luisa she feels like the “luckiest migrant in the world.”


Jo Tabit, Senior Manager Given the Chance says at the Brotherhood of St. Laurence they know that helping people on the margins to be included in our society is about more than just providing services.


"Marginalised jobseekers want the opportunity to make a contribution. A professional workplace environment which understands the importance of its people can be so powerful, creating an incredible ripple effect in these communities, boosting their confidence, helping them understand they have a role to play."


Luisa says, “The Given the Chance program has allowed me to reconnect with one of the things I have loved the most in my life, which is the law. Every day I wake up so happy to be working in this incredible organisation, with such an amazing team.”


“My experience in ANZ’s Legal team has been invaluable to my personal and professional development, and I am looking forward to continuing to do my best every day - so that this experience is not only unforgettable and worthwhile for me but also very productive and beneficial for ANZ.”


Ken Adams, Group General Counsel reflects on the program and the bank's long-standing commitment to it.


“The ability to help a migrant, to provide support as they transition to become active members of our community, is both a great opportunity to help someone else, a positive contribution to our community and helps to build a diverse team at ANZ,” he says.


“The feedback from the team has been uniformly positive – they love seeing us make a tangible impact on the community.”


Ken says, “It's completely aligned with our purpose at ANZ”.


Welcoming record participation


To date, ANZ has welcomed more than 300 participants to the organisation, with approximately 65 per cent going on to permanent employment. This year (2021):


  • ANZ has hired 47 participants, the highest ever number of recruits to the program;
  • ANZ is currently working on the largest recruitment drive in New South Wales (NSW) with 17 participants hired to work in NSW branches over the last 3 months; and
  • 27 candidates have been hired for FY22, with a combination of branch and head office roles.


Looking forward


As part of the program, Luisa was paired with a mentor to help her navigate her new working environment. The mentoring program was an essential part of her placement. Luisa says she was lucky to have an amazing mentor who supported her and offered advice any time she needed it.


“Any question I had was resolved or clarified, with such kindness and patience that made me feel very fortunate and very welcome at ANZ,” she says.


Moving forward, Luisa is feeling positive about her and Miguel’s future, saying this opportunity has not only changed her life but also that of her family.


“We all feel blessed and we are sure we will have a bright and beautiful future - even more so now that we are expecting our first baby.”


Right now, Luisa’s goal is to become a registered lawyer in Australia.


“I have realised that dreams do come true if you work hard on them and if you are surrounded by good and supportive people, like I am now.”


This article is adapted from a case study featured in the ANZ 2021 ESG Supplement.


*Real names have been withheld for privacy reasons.

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