Hedayat Osyan, winner of the Committee for Sydney’s 2022 Western Sydney Champion award, created a construction company that empowers refugees with skills and employment.
About to start a PhD in forensics and working a labouring job, he had an epiphany. Having struggled to find work after fleeing persecution in Afghanistan in 2010, Hedayat saw he could do something about it.
“I realised construction is the perfect industry for us, because so many refugees have some type of experience in the industry, and it’s easy to learn,” he said.
“My research showed construction was one of Australia’s biggest industries, with a big labour shortage.
“So I started a tiling company, very small at the time, called Nick Tiling – because in my language Nick means something good, something beneficial to the community.
“Within a few months, we had secured three big projects in different parts of NSW.”
Since renamed CommUnity Construction, Hedayat Osyan’s business has trained and employed more than 75 refugees over the past five years, completing 130+ projects – two trainees have since founded their own businesses.
The Western Sydney Champion award, supported by award sponsor Aurecon, was designed to recognise a significant contribution to advocating for and advancing Sydney’s engine room in the west, one of the fastest growing and most diverse regions in the state.
Rowenna Walker, MD NSW and ACT at Aurecon, said: “At Aurecon, we believe successful precinct and city design not only supports liveable, sustainable communities but also stimulates economic growth and jobs creation.
“Realising this vision for Western Sydney relies on the dedication and collaboration between many public sector agencies, private companies, businesses, communities and individuals committed to the region, such as Hedayat Osyan.
“We applaud his vision, dedication and success in bringing employment opportunities for his community to life. We are incredibly proud to support Hadayat and play a part in the valuable contribution CommUnity Construction has made to Western Sydney.”
Hedayat Osyan was born in central Afghanistan, in the Hazara ethnic minority. After the Taliban kidnapped his father, he fled Afghanistan to escape persecution, carrying just two reminders of home, his mother’s ring and a Hazara handkerchief made by his sister.
Hedayat Osyan, CEO of CommUnity Construction: “Unemployment is a big challenge for our community because when people come to Australia as refugees, they struggle to find a job, and even when they get work they can be be exploited because they can’t speak English and don’t have the networks.”
“Refugee people and asylum seekers, they are very resourceful, they are resilient, they want to make a positive contribution to society, all they need is a bit of help. That’s why I established Community Construction, to give a platform for people to flourish and to support their families with meaningful work, and contribute to society.”
“We rebranded Nick Tiling to Community Construction because we’re about making an impact on people’s lives, it’s not just about doing the job, it’s about changing people’s lives.
“When I heard the news about this award, I was pretty shocked because there’s a lot of other people doing great work with refugees and asylum seekers in the community.
“It’s a huge win for me and also for my community, it’s been the first time someone from my community has been recognised as a Western Sydney Champion. I believe it will give us hope and important coverage for our community to see they can work hard and feel proud.”
Usman Iftikhar, 2021 Western Sydney Champion, CEO and co-founder of Catalysr, commercialisation facilitator with the Australian Government’s entrepreneurs‘ program, and Sydney Awards judge: “Hedayat’s an inspiration to the community because he’s really helped a lot of people – what he’s accomplished in such a short period of time, being a refugee, and then really changing the game, by not just creating work for himself but also employment for other people.”
“These awards are really fantastic because they are a great opportunity for people like Hedayat to really get that spotlight they deserve. This will open more doors, more opportunities to get new contracts to help more refugees, with the potential to grow a much larger business that is recognised not just in Australia but globally.”
Designed to celebrate people whose efforts make Sydney the greatest city in the world, there are five categories: Global Sydney, Western Sydney Champion, City Visionary, Emerging Leader, and Unsung Hero.
The eminent judging panel for the awards include:
- Ann Sherry AO – Chair Unicef Australia and Enero Australia
- Usman Iftikhar – CEO of Catalysr, and winner of the 2021 Western Sydney Champion Award
- Sara Mansour – Founder Bankstown Poetry Slam, Lawyer at Settlement Services International
- Eric Knight – Executive Dean at Macquarie Business School, and Professor of Strategic Management
- Tanya Hosch – Executive General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, AFL
- Mike Baird AO – CEO HammondCare, and former Premier of NSW.
The Sydney Awards are supported by major partner Macquarie Business School, and award sponsors Aurecon, Coles, ISPT Super Property, KPMG and Mirvac Design.