CQUniversity and Mission Australia coffee van training partnership brews up a storm of potential

Published:27 March 2020

Mission Australia Certificate I in Hospitality trainees Sadie Leon and Emily Satrick.

A hospitality training partnership between CQUniversity and Mission Australia will help provide valuable skills and employment opportunities to people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in Cairns.

Mission Australia’s Café One program provides training in safe food handling and barista coffee-making through Mission Australia’s mobile coffee van.

Café One Co-Ordinator Anne Ah Gee said clients in the program were engaged in casual work with the mobile van and Mission Australia was keen to provide them with a recognised qualification.

“We had observed this learning and activity lifted the self-esteem of participants,” Anne said.

“We saw an opportunity to upskill our clients further by offering a six-month paid traineeship with a Certificate I in Hospitality to get real work skills and an understanding of what a full time position really looks like.

“This meant we needed to focus on building not just a trainee’s self-esteem, but also to impart real knowledge and a work ethic. We would need to foster a commitment that would see our trainees successfully pass their online training and assessment module as well as be equipped with practical skills that would see them be a valuable employee for future employers.”

Mission Australia contacted CQUniversity in Cairns about overseeing the training.

“We believed that being able to offer our trainees the opportunity to engage with a higher education opportunity with CQUni would be life changing and build upon the self-belief of our trainees,” Anne said.

“Being able to access and enter the CQUniversity site in Cairns as a registered student has a huge impact on people who have not accessed tertiary education or engaged in long term employment before.”

Through the arrangement, four Mission Australia trainees will complete a 24-week paid traineeship by working in the coffee van as baristas and customer service workers and complete a Certificate I in Hospitality.

“The Certificate I in Hospitality helps introduce our trainees to the study process, it increases their practical skill capacity, and gives them a qualification at the end of their traineeship,” Anne said.

Since the commencement of the course, two of the trainees have expressed interest in further study, with one wanting to study a Certificate III in Community Services and the other a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery. Mission Australia has supported both trainees to pursue these goals.

“In the past, we provided basic barista training and casual work, which was proven to lift the self-esteem of clients, and provided a diversionary activity, which was positive for their mental health,” Anne said.

“Moving to the training with CQUni, we are now able to provide qualifications that are entwined with a true understanding of what being a valuable employee is.

“The training has assisted our trainees to become job and study-ready clients who have a clear picture of what they want and what they need to do to achieve their goals. They are equipped with a range of transferable skills that will augur them well for the future no matter what position they hold.

“Our partnership with CQUni has worked well and we have seen really positive outcomes for our trainees. We have felt supported in this process which was totally new to the team at Douglas House where Café One is located. We plan to reapply in the short term for funding through the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work program, so that we are able to offer this program again next year.”