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Indigenous job seekers are culinary rising stars

16 young Indigenous job seekers graduated from the Warrigal pre-employment programme on 22 August 2014, an initiative of Compass Group Australia, Westpac, Jobfind and the David Liddiard Group, to begin careers in hospitality.

The three-week pre-employment programme prepared participants for apprenticeships as chefs, and hospitality traineeships, with the Compass Group catering venues at Taronga Zoo and Westpac.

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Above: Programme participants attending a welcome barbecue at NCIE.

Job Services Australia (JSA) provider, Jobfind, in partnership with the David Liddiard Group, recruited the participants for the programme, in collaboration with other JSA providers, across Sydney and the Central Coast. The majority of the job seekers had been struggling to find employment because of their limited job skills and work experience, coupled with barriers they had previously faced such as domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and a lack of language and literacy skills. All candidates demonstrated they were keen to overcome these barriers, focus their commitment on pursuing a career in hospitality and rise to the challenge of undertaking the intensive course.

The key to the project’s success was the pre-employment programme, consisting of an Orientation week, a life-skills week and a three-week residency, all aimed at arming the participants with the skills, tools and confidence they require to fully engage with their new employers.

During the Orientation Week Jobfind organised a number of group activities, so that participants could bond as a team and build their self-esteem and confidence through a ‘Cook Off’ competition, activity-based trip to Taronga Zoo, a personal training session at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and an ‘amazing race’ around the city. The week of life skills, included a finance and goal-setting session, cultural awareness training, a presentation on nutrition, a number of online core skills modules and a workshop on language, literacy and numeracy.

Motivational speakers were invited to address the participants, including Michael O’Loughlin, a former Indigenous AFL player, who encouraged the participants to seize this opportunity, set their minds on completing the programme and becoming shining examples to others in their mob, for what is possible.

The residency programme, made up of 10 training days and 5 work placement days, facilitated a learning pathway for the participants to gain basic skills and work experience in a commercial kitchen at the William Angliss Institute, before they commenced their traineeships and apprenticeships with the Compass Group.

The participants will receive 12 months of ongoing study support and guidance from two Indigenous mentors, identified by the David Liddiard Group. Participants were also provided with accommodation by NCIE during the programme and had their travel fares and meal expenses funded by Jobfind.

Through the programme, Jobfind, the David Liddiard Group, Westpac, Compass Group, William Angliss and NCIE, have collaborated to facilitate training and mentoring, leading to employment outcomes for all of these young Indigenous Australians, who have now begun traineeships and apprenticeships at Taronga Zoo, Westpac, Google and David Jones.

See below a video about the programme.

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