The Suncorp Community Café Helping Australians Thrive
Suncorp’s Community Café recently held its second graduation ceremony on behalf of all students completing a Certificate II in Hospitality Skillset.
In just 18 months, 44 individuals have already graduated from the program, successfully completing the three-month upskilling initiative.
Founded in April 2018, Suncorp’s Community Café provides individuals who’ve encountered barriers to further education or employment a space to further their professional growth and employment opportunities. Many have come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are looking to enter the Australian workforce with valuable and applicable skills that will help support themselves in the future.
As well as completing either a half or full Certificate II in Hospitality Skillset, students are given the opportunity to receive financial literacy education and counselling to support new workers to feel confident in the workforce once leaving the program.
This year’s graduation ceremony was attended by individuals from the local community, Suncorp’s EGM of Consumer Banking, Chris Fleming and the Corporate Responsibility team, alongside representatives from the Wesley Mission, Darcy Street Project and parliament, including the Honourable Scott Farlow, Member of the Legislative Council, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, NSW Parliament, Rev Keith Garner, AM, CEO and Superintendent of Wesley Mission, and John Cafferatta, CEO and Founder of Darcy Street Project.
Also in attendance was Community Café alumnus, Shahe Terzian. Graduating from the pilot program in 2018, Shahe returned to this year’s graduation as a guest speaker. Having fled from Syria two years ago, he came across the work of Wesley Mission, Darcy Street Project and Suncorp’s Community Café soon after his arrival in Australia, using the experience as a stepping stone and to immerse himself into the Australian workforce.
Shahe remembers his family’s escape from the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, describing a place where “guns were everywhere” and a life where there was “no safety at all”. Forced into the Syrian army, he fled with his parents and brother to Lebanon where they lived for three years before immigrating to Australia.
Speaking to our recent grads about his personal experience and all he’s achieved since graduating from the program, Shahe describes the opportunity at the Community Café as “a defining moment” and “something that has helped me find purpose in my life in a new country”.
Now working for Darcy Street Project as a full-time supervisor, Shahe guides and supports new students coming through various community-based projects. “I have been down, and I want to give everything back I’ve been given. There is so much to look ahead to. With these new skills and relationships formed, the sky is the limit”, Shahe said when addressing the new graduates, “there is no limit to the opportunities out of these doors”.
Darcy Street Project Founder, John Cafferatta said the café has given students invaluable workplace experience. “It started as a passion project. We had a love for coffee and wanted to turn this shared passion into something meaningful,” Mr Cafferatta said.
“The Suncorp Community Café provides the perfect environment for people to learn and experience a real work environment – engaging with customers and Suncorp employees will make a big difference to their confidence and employment prospects.
"We have been running similar initiatives for a few years and it’s amazing to see the transformation of a person’s self-worth from the time they start to when they graduate – they leave confident, independent and feeling positive about their future – they also get to serve around 1,000 coffees.”
Suncorp EGM of Consumer Banking, Chris Fleming, said the Café is a great example of what can be achieved when businesses and community organisations work together. “We know financial wellbeing is essential to building resilient people and communities, and we want students to walk away from the program feeling confident to achieve their goals, professionally and financially.”
The Community Café serves free coffee to Suncorp customers inside the Discovery Store located at 197 Pitt Street in Sydney and is open seven days a week.