Hedayat Osyan has always known he wanted to make an impact in politics. But it wasn’t until he started working as a Youth Ambassador with MYAN NSW, that he realised how.
Hedayat is originally from Central Afghanistan and part of the Hazara minority group who have been systematically persecuted by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and now ISIS. When his father went missing in 2006, the Taliban threatened the rest of his family and told them they had to leave Afghanistan. Hedayat fled from his village and organised a people smuggler to take him from Kabul to Indonesia and then to Australia. He was only seventeen at the time. When he first arrived in Australia in 2010, he was unable to speak English and he had to start from scratch. But he knew he wanted to pursue politics.
In Canberra, he studied a Bachelor of Politics and International Relations and he received a scholarship to do Honours and then was offered a PhD. But, while he loved it, he says, it was all theory. He realised there were no organisations to represent migrant youth at a political or national level, so on a university break, he began to volunteer at MYAN NSW.
As a Youth Ambassador, he began hearing more and more from young refugees who needed work. Many wanted to secure visas and work in the construction industry, but they didn’t have the language, confidence, or skills to navigate the field.
Hedayat realised there was a gap in the market, and that he could use his knowledge and political experience to help them achieve this. So, he postponed his PhD and he became the Founder and Managing Director of social enterprise, Community Construction
“In the construction environment there is quite a limited knowledge of refugees and asylum- seeker issues. I try to find companies that are more open-minded and I share my own experiences with them to help understand.”
Now, within two years, he has employed and trained more than forty-five refugees to become professional tilers. They have regular incomes. Some of the employees sponsor their families, and they are growing in confidence and able to speak to their colleagues now.
He says, when he first arrived in Australia in 2010, he never could have dreamt he would be running his own business and empowering other refugees navigate their own paths. Hedayat says, “everything changed because MYAN opened a new chapter for my life.”
Since founding the business, he has been selected as Young Social Pioneer by FYA in 2018 and First Gens Accelerator by ygap in 2019, and spoken at several conferences, including TEDx Sydney .