Asylum seekers

Initiatives to support asylum seekers are available to help them achieve long-term skilled employment in NSW.

These initiatives are designed to support asylum seekers through access to fee-free training under Smart and Skilled and provide employment support aimed at maximising their contribution to NSW through achieving long-term skilled employment.

Fee-free training

Fee-free training is available under Smart and Skilled for full qualification courses up to Certificate IV level, including Foundation Skills courses that focus on language, literacy, numeracy and employability skills development. Short courses comprising skills-sets can be accessed under the part qualifications program.

Asylum Seeker Employment Skills Support (ASESS)

The NSW Government provided $11.65 million to deliver Asylum Seeker Employment Skills Support program, to assist asylum seekers in finding long term sustainable employment.

This program aims to break down barriers to employment, by providing practical support and assistance to help get a job, securing a brighter future for asylum seekers and their families.

The ASESS program offers a range of initiatives to help participants develop suitable career paths and provide them with the tools required to gain sustainable and skilled employment.

The ASESS program will support participants to:

  • Gain sustainable and skilled employment - Participants receive assistance in obtaining suitable employment that uses their skills.
  • Improve English language skills - Participants may be enrolled in a relevant language training course.
  • Benefit from relevant education and training courses - Participants may be eligible to enrol in fee-free training or higher education courses.
  • Access mentoring - An appropriate mentor may be identified, and a meeting plan implemented.
  • Gain recognition of overseas skills/qualifications - Participants may be assisted to gain recognition of their qualifications and/or skills in Australia with associated costs subsidised by the NSW Government.
  • Become work ready - Participants may receive assistance relating to basic employability skills, such as interview preparation and understanding Australian workplace culture and norms.
  • Business Skills Development - Participants who wish to start a business may receive direct support and access to advisory services.
  • Benefit from work experience placements - Participants may be offered relevant work experience with one or more employers.
  • Overcome transport barriers - Participants may be supported to overcome significant transport barriers such as assistance obtaining a NSW driver licence.

If you are:

  • aged 16^ to 66 years (see definitions)
  • an asylum seeker* based in NSW (see definitions)
  • underemployed or unemployed and require extra support.
  • have an exemption from attending school if you are under 18.

If you answered 'Yes' to the above, you may be eligible to register for ASESS.

Individuals can only be registered in the ASESS where their Visa provides work and/or study rights and their participation in the ASESS will fully comply with their Visa conditions.

An Asylum Seeker means a person who:

  • has made a valid application to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) for any one of the types of visas listed under the definition of Refugee*, which is yet to be finally determined (including in respect of any application for judicial review and any competent appeals from such applications, which are yet to be finally determined); or
  • holds a temporary visa, of any of the following categories:
    • Temporary Protection visa (Class XD) (Subclass 785),
    • Safe Haven Enterprise visa (Class XE) (Subclass 790),
    • Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) (Subclass 449) visa
    • Temporary (Humanitarian Concern) (Subclass 786) visa; or
  • has made a valid application to Home Affairs for a temporary visa, of either one of the following categories:
    • Temporary Protection visa (Class XD) (Subclass 785),
    • Safe Haven Enterprise visa (Class XE) (Subclass 790), which is yet to be finally determined (including in respect of any application for judicial review and any competent appeals from such applications, which are yet to be finally determined); or
  • has made a valid application pursuant to s.417 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), which is yet to be determined, and who holds a bridging visa allowing their lawful stay in Australia granting them permission to work.

^ Where the individual is under the age of 18 years, they must additionally provide evidence of a certified copy of a signed Certificate of Exemption from school

*Refugee Visas: Protection Visa (Class XA) (Subclass 866), Refugee Visa (Class XB) (Subclass 200), In-country Special Humanitarian Visa (Class XB) (Subclass 201), Global Special Humanitarian (Class XB) (Subclass 202), Emergency Rescue Visa (Class XB) (Subclass 203), Woman at Risk Visa (Class XB) (Subclass 204), or has been granted a permanent visa of any subclass by the Minister for Immigration following an application under s.417 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

The ASESS program is being delivered by Settlement Services International (SSI) on behalf of the NSW Government.

Settlement Services International is a community-based not-for-profit organisation which provides a range of services in the areas of refugee settlement, migrant support services, asylum seeker assistance, and multicultural foster care in NSW.

Contact Settlement Services International to enquire or to register with the ASESS program.

SSI provides ASESS services in Southern and South Western Sydney, Western Sydney and Blue Mountains region and Regional NSW.



Liverpool Office
Address: Level 1/45 – 47 Scott Street, Liverpool NSW 2170
Phone: 02 9600 3100

Fairfield Office
Address: Ground Floor / 7 William Street, Fairfield NSW 2165
Phone: 02 8111 7000

Ashfield Office
Address: 2/158 Liverpool Road, Ashfield NSW 2131
Phone: 02 8799 6700

Due to unforeseen circumstances HOST International is not able to continue providing services in Western Sydney/Blue Mountains region and Regional NSW.

For clients living in the Sydney Metropolitan area you can seek support from the listed provider above.

Contact us

For any questions about the Asylum Seeker Employment Skills Support (ASESS) program, please contact

Refugee Employment Support Program

The Refugee Employment Support Program (RESP) was a five-year $34.5 million initiative by the NSW Government, managed by the NSW Department of Education. The program was implemented to address the challenges experienced by refugees in finding long term skilled employment opportunities.

It assisted more than 10,000 refugees across Western Sydney and Illawarra, the areas where a majority of refugees settle in NSW.

The RESP program concluded on 30 June 2024, with RESP participants transitioning to Commonwealth-funded employment support programs on 1 July 2024.

Refugees can now access employment support services through Workforce Australia:


  • Skills
  • VET


  • VET

Business Unit:

  • Training Services NSW
Return to top of page Back to top