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Stearn finding right ingredients to thrive – Canterbury Bankstown Express

Stearn Hooley of Panania.

Above: Stearn Hooley of Panania.

A young Panania man with a learning disability is cooking up a storm with a little help from a restaurateur and an equal opportunities employment company.

Stearn Hooley, 20, came to RealPath Bankstown as an early school leaver who was tormented by bullies.

Mr Hooley started work as an apprentice chef at Italian restaurant Fountain 77 in Glebe in October last year.

Experiencing abuse in school made him believe antisocial behaviour was normal and he was not expected to complete his contract.

However, his RealPath consultant Nevine Goubran visited Mr Hooley and his employer to help them work together more effectively.

Ms Goubran experimented with photographs of ingredients and instructions in the kitchen to help Mr Hooley retain new information and the prompts worked brilliantly.

“It wasn’t easy trying to find my first job,” the aspiring chef said.

“I’ve always liked food and cooking. I’ve been here for almost a year now so I’m very happy.”

Fountain 77 owner Mary Polat said she saw Mr Hooley’s potential, so decided to give him a go. “He has a different way of doing things and he’s become a welcome addition to the team,” Ms Polat said.

“He’s a great guy who works hard and keeps learning every day.”

A RealPath spokesman said Mr Hooley faced challenges, but was able to discover meaningful employment for the first time.

“With a job comes the ability to fund your dreams and Stearn is currently saving up for a motorbike, and in the future hopes to take his new friends for a ride,” he said.

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