Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton (right) caught up with CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes Social Enterprise and Community Engagement Manager Michael McDowell (left) and Cooee for Coffee team members Dimity Dixon and Tori Towney in Bourke recently.
A social enterprise project helping women in Bourke and Wilcannia to enter the workforce and gain job-ready skills has received $689,870 in funding from the Federal Government to kick-start the initiative.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton recently visited the Cooee for Coffee café in Bourke to announce the funding for CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes.
“CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes has established two Cooee for Coffee cafes in Bourke and Wilcannia, where local women will undertake work experience as part of a 12-month training program, providing them with life skills, job readiness, financial literacy and employment skills,” Mr Coulton said.
“Many of these women have never been employed and lack job-ready skills, but this program will provide them with the experience they need to enter the workforce and gain long-term employment, which will not only give them a leg-up in life, but will benefit the entire community.
“I commend CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes on coming up with a practical solution to address unemployment issues in these two remote communities, while providing people with a place where they can meet up and enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal.
“This funding, provided through the Federal Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program, will help the Cooee for Coffee project get off the ground and make a real difference in these communities.”
The funding will also help establish a new hair salon adjacent to the Cooee for Coffee café in Wilcannia.
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes CEO Anne-Marie Mioche was thrilled to receive this funding and said the program has already successfully trained a number of people, with four staff employed across the two cafes and a fifth person about to be hired.
“I can’t tell you how grateful we are that we’ve been given this grant to get the project kick-started; it’s going to make such a difference,” Ms Mioche said.
“The idea behind the Cooee for Coffee social enterprise is to create real jobs and opportunities for people in communities such as Bourke and Wilcannia where they may never have been offered a job or the opportunity to train to be job-ready.
“One thing that will make a difference to people is to have a real job and career prospects. This café is doing that in a small way. There’s a lot of pride in it. Our team members feel very proud to have been hired and trained to have these skills.
“And, in creating a social enterprise like a coffee shop, it enriches the community, providing a gathering place for the community to come together and meet and socialise. In fact, it’s the only café in the Wilcannia community.”
Ms Mioche said CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes will work with program participants to provide them with a CV and, once they are job-ready, they will have the opportunity to move on to other jobs.
As part of the 2021–22 Budget, the Federal Government is investing a further $38.3 million over five years into expanding the Women’s Leadership and Development Program.