Staff at this unique Melbourne flower shop are grateful to be able to stay open during the lockdown

During the city’s COVID-19 closures, she also says making colorful bouquets gave her a purpose.

“It’s beautiful to be able to make people happy and uplifted, and I feel a sense of connection with others,” she says. “By sending these flowers, I feel like I am doing my part for society.”

Asante Abubaker works at The Beautiful Bunch.


SBS visited The Beautiful Bunch ahead of Melbourne’s latest lockdown.

This week, while the business is allowed to remain open and door-to-door delivery is still permitted, it is not delivering to nursing homes or hospitals.

Migrants and unemployment

Almost half of young Australians are first or second generation migrants, according to the Bureau of Statistics, and one in four Australians between the ages of 18 and 24 is born overseas.

This group faced serious employment challenges during the pandemic.

The Multicultural Youth Center says young people are the hardest hit by job losses and will suffer the long-term labor market consequences of the economic downturn, and that those from refugee and migrant backgrounds are disproportionately affected .

Staff at this unique Melbourne flower shop are grateful to be able to stay open during the lockdown


“It’s harder for them to find a job and learn the skills they need to enter the workforce for the first time,” says Jane Marx, Ms. Abubaker’s employer at The Beautiful Bunch.

“So working with us is a life changing opportunity for many young women. “

Ms Marx hired Ms Abubaker four years ago, initially for her events business, Merchant Road. The social enterprise was created in 2018 to help women with immigrant and refugee backgrounds start their careers.

But when events dried up during the lockdown last year, he was forced to pivot.

“We launched The Beautiful Bunch to deliver flower deliveries around Melbourne, and [online orders] assured that we could keep the business going, ”Ms. Marx said.

MYOB Business Monitor data shows that before the last foreclosure, 39% of Victorian businesses were forced to adapt their offering, compared to a national average of 33%.

Additionally, more than half of all small and medium-sized businesses in the Victorian era moved their business or services online, with 85% saying it helped them stay afloat.

Settling stress

Ms Marx currently employs four people under the Retail Award and recently hired a new intern, Betiel Tafsay, 19, who emigrated to Australia two years ago from Eritrea.

“It really helped me pay the rent and the food. It was hard to find a job because when I sent in my resume, they wanted people with work experience, but I didn’t have any, ”says Tafsay.

Betiel Tafsay is training in floristry.

Source: SBS Scott Cardwell


Ms Marx knows the settlement stress newcomers face after teaching English to social housing residents in central Melbourne for several years.

She says the economic impact of four closures in the region has exacerbated an already difficult situation for many.

“Young women from migrant and refugee backgrounds are often caregivers and some have taken on many responsibilities during COVID-19 caring for their extended families,” she says.

“At the same time, many industries offering entry-level positions are just not hiring. So these opportunities in working in the hospitality industry, for example, do not work. “

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“It’s really a stressful situation and especially for those who are already vulnerable, who don’t have money or social connections and don’t have a safety net to fall back on.”

“And going back into lockdown and feeling isolated is a lot of anxiety.”

Small Business Australia director Bill Lang predicts the current 14-day lockdown will cost $ 2 billion in lost economic activity statewide.

But as orders pour in, Marx is confident her company can continue to provide stable employment and training to support its staff.

Ms. Marx is convinced that the business can grow, despite the pandemic.


“For some, this is the first experience of a safe and welcoming work environment that allows them to develop skills and self-confidence,” she says.

Ms. Abubaker agrees: “Jane is a great mentor. She has a vision to help the community, including people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and that opens so many doors for us to learn skills and eventually move on to other jobs. “

“I take a lot of inspiration from the young women we work with, for their resilience and creativity,” says Ms. Marx.

“Despite the uncertainties of going through a pandemic, we are well positioned to grow and continue doing the work we love.”


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