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A photo of Nazar, a 22-year-old Ukrainian migrant now works as a security officer in Adelaide, Australia. The photo shows Nazar standing in front of his current workplace.

From War Zone to Work

After migrating to Australia in 2022 with his family, Nazar studied English at TAFE and with the support of Workskil Australia, he gained employment as a security guard in Adelaide, South Australia.


Less than 18 months ago, Nazar was on the frontline of the Ukrainian border, helping refugees flee the horrors of war into Poland.

“It was so sad, particularly for the children,” Nazar, said. “Families were separated, and they were coming over with nothing. We’d help them find food and clothes and just help them understand what was going on.”

Now, on the other side of the world, the 22-year-old draws on this experience and empathy as a security officer in Adelaide.

“It’s still about communicating with people,” Nazar said. “I want to help people and for them to trust me.”

Born and raised in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, Nazar and his parents moved to Poland when he was 14. The family migrated to Australia in 2022, fearing for their safety in eastern Europe.

“We chose to come to Australia because it is far away,” he said. “We all wanted a better life.”

Boarding the plane in Warsaw, it was the first time Nazar had ever been on an aircraft.

“Everything was new,” he said. “New places, new people, new language.”

“At first, I was scared but straight away I liked people here because they are very friendly. It’s nice that people talk even if they don’t know each other. Where I come from you don’t really talk to anyone unless you have met them before.”

After settling in Adelaide, Nazar studied English at TAFE. Supported by Workskil Australia, he gained employment with KM Corporate Security – a South Australian business providing security services to a range of industries from healthcare, maritime and railway to retail and corporate sites.

He is now working up to 60 hours a fortnight providing security, mainly in hospitals including wards supporting people with dementia and brain injuries.

KM Corporate Security General Manager Catherine Burpee said demand for security, particularly in health care settings, had skyrocketed following the COVID-19 pandemic – with migrants helping fill the workforce void.

“We offer entry-level jobs for many people, including migrants, who would otherwise struggle to find work because they lack experience,” Catherine said.

Catherine said when Nazar was introduced to her through Workskil Australia, he displayed many qualities KM security looked for in candidates.

“He was extremely polite, well presented and well-spoken,” she said. “He makes people feel at ease. He can relate to people from a range of backgrounds which is critical in this industry.”

“Often migrants are the keenest candidates because they are so grateful. They also tend to have a very strong sense of community. Even if they struggle at first, they end up going above and beyond.”

A qualified dental hygienist in Poland, Nazar resigned to volunteer at the border when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Initially, he felt guilty about leaving and still struggles knowing his family, including his grandmothers and cousins, are still in Ukraine.

“When they (cousins) go to school, there’s a siren and straight away, a rocket… there’s no time to escape,” he said. “I try to support them and talk to them every day.”

However, there’s no going back.

“I want to definitely stay here in Australia,” he said. “I would like to go back to study dental hygiene here and combine it with security work.

“I’m on a path now. I want to make the most of it.”


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