Warrigal program

Indigenous youth launch hospitality careers

The first sixteen Indigenous Australians to complete the first phase of a unique pilot apprenticeship program today are embarking on new careers in hospitality.  The Warrigal Program – named after an Indigenous plant that flourishes and thrives in any environment – prepares young Indigenous Australians for careers in the hospitality industry by offering industry qualifications, real-world experience and holistic support through mentoring, motivation and care both during their work day and in their personal lives.

The program was developed by RA’s parent company Compass Group, in partnership with Westpac Group, where we provide fine-cuisine catering and hospitality services.  Additional support has been generously provided by Jobfind, the David Liddiard Group and a range of community partners.

The participants, aged between 18 and 36, have completed five weeks of training, including an initial two week orientation program and an intensive three week pre-employment program.    Next they will gain practical work experience in catering and hospitality via work placements with Restaurant Associates.   Ten of the graduates will work at Westpac Group’s Head Office (275 Kent Street, Sydney).   As part of this, they will work in front and back of house – gaining experience working in commercial kitchens, cafes, waiter, concierge and administrative duties. The other six are completing their work placement at other Compass Group and Restaurant Associates service locations in Sydney.

“The introduction of the Warrigal Program furthers Compass Group’s commitment to opening doors for Indigenous Australians to gain employment in the hospitality industry and beyond,” said Mark van Dyck, Managing Director, Compass Group Australia.  “The goal is for participants to take the skills and knowledge gained from the program and apply them to all aspects of their lives, helping them to grow personally and professionally and to flourish in their careers.

During the pre-employment program, apprentices have been living together at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern and participating in life skills and work readiness training, including cooking classes, fitness and personal training, orientation sessions around Sydney, cultural workshops and financial skills workshops.  They have also undertaken work readiness training including personal and professional goal setting and course work at William Angliss Institute Sydney to achieve accreditation in their chosen field (Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, Certificate III in Hospitality or Certificate III in Business Administration).   Initial preparation and placement of the candidates was conducted by Job Services Australia provider Jobfind (a division of the Angus Knight Group).  Cultural awareness training was provided by Pindarri Cultural Awareness.

A crucial element to the success of the Warrigal Program is the Aboriginal mentoring provided through David Liddiard Recruitment and Labour Hire Pty Ltd.  There is a growing awareness in the corporate sector that Aboriginal mentoring, both in the pre- employment and early employment phases has a direct influence on retention of new Aboriginal employees. The Aboriginal mentors for the Warrigal program have provided invaluable support to the participants, and without the mentors’ role the participants may well have not seen the course through to completion.

Development of the Warrigal Program is an extension of Compass Group’s demonstrated commitment to increasing the participation of Indigenous Australians, which via its dedicated Indigenous Strategy sees it directly employing more than 490 Indigenous Australians, being actively involved in Indigenous business engagement including 9 active Joint Venture partnerships that benefit Aboriginal communities, and supporting locally based initiatives to help build stronger and healthier communities.

This commitment to increasing the economic participation of Indigenous Australians and businesses saw Compass Group become a founding member of Supply Nation in 2009, Australia’s premier business-to-business membership body dedicated to growing diversity within the supply chain, and named 2014 Corporate Member of the Year.  Compass and Westpac have engaged Supply Nation certified Indigenous suppliers in the development of the Warrigal Program, including Nalliwalli Promotions, who supplied participants’ uniforms and the David Liddiard Group.

Compass Group and Westpac Group are grateful for the support the program has received from business and community partners including William Angliss Institute, David Liddiard Recruitment and Labour Hire Pty Ltd., Jobfind, Nallawilli Promotions, National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Supply Nation, Pindarri Cultural Awareness and the Go Foundation.