Scarf trainees graduate!

2019 Nurturing Grant update – Scarf Community’s Tasting Plate for Women

Despite unpredictable and extended Covid circumstances forcing Scarf Community to delay and restructure delivery of its Tasting Plate for Women (TP4W) program, for which it received MWF’s 2019 $30,000 Nurturing Grant, Scarf has delivered the majority of its intended program with strong results. 

TP4W was designed to provide women from protection-seeking, refugee or migrant backgrounds with three days of hands-on hospitality training, culminating with two ‘Pop Up’ Scarf Dinners in well-regarded, female-owned restaurants where trainees would gain real paid work experience (above the Restaurant Industry Award). 

The objectives of the program were to:

  • run practical, hands-on training sessions and employment workshops to grow the skills, knowledge and job-readiness of participants;
  • provide supportive mentoring from industry professionals to grow participants’ networks and confidence, and create employment pathways into industry jobs; and
  • provide paid real-world work experience in partner restaurants during pop up Scarf Dinners, so that participants could gain deeper insight into the realities of working in the hospitality industry, valuable work experience and references.

When pandemic restrictions lifted in April 2021, Scarf advertised the TP4W program. They received 34 applications, 88% of whom were unemployed, from 15 different ethnicities, with higher numbers from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Referrals came from significant non-profit organisations in Melbourne—such as Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Centre for Multicultural Youth and River Nile School—that support refugee and new arrivals, multicultural youth, and young women experiencing disadvantage. 

After reviewing the candidates for eligibility and availability, Scarf accepted 18 women into TR4W, of which 16 began and completed the program. Over the three-day program in May 2021, the women received hands-on hospitality instruction that included Sequence of Service training, bar training and hands-on coffee making from female hospitality leaders at venues such as Five Senses Barista Academy and Two Birds Brewing. 

Additional training included a practice interview round robin with hospitality professionals; a panel discussion with inspirational women in hospitality, such as Hiruni Peiris (Northcote Bakeshop), Jenny Polack (Wine Whitch) and Ilanit Baird (Soigne Consultancy/Thick Accents Project) and three Scarf graduates who have successfully pursued hospitality careers; a session on understanding work rights and responsibilities in Australia; and a session on mindfulness and wellbeing while job hunting. 

After completing the three-day program, graduates undertook accredited certificate training (Responsible Service of Alcohol and Level 1 Food Handling) thanks to Scarf’s partnership with Registered Training Organisation, Complete Hospitality Training. Scarf also provided trainees with ongoing access to online professional hospitality instruction, such as Restaurant and Catering Australia’s online courses.

However, when the Victorian Government called another pandemic lockdown the morning of the first dinner—a lockdown that ultimately lasted through the winter­—the dinners did not occur. 

To compensate for this, Scarf opened their Winter Scarf ’21 program to these graduates. Additionally, it is reaching out to venues to expand its hospitality partners and increase the variety of paid work experience opportunities for Scarf graduates. Four venues have confirmed to date, enabling Scarf to link up its graduate trainees, including those from TP4W program, with a range of paid work experience shifts. 

Despite these barriers to momentum, Scarf reports strong post-program engagement with the Scarf team, with 100% of graduates accepting post-program support to update their resumes and 69% continuing to engage with post-program check-ins and employment support. At six-months post-program, ten graduates were employed and four were pursuing further study.

One of the TP4W graduates, Julianna, sums up the benefits of the program’s training:

‘The best thing that I learned in the Tasting Plate program was to be optimistic, fearless and to stand up for myself and do the right thing. Also, understanding my rights in the workplace. [While working at Scarf Dinners] at Stomping Ground, I was nervous about meeting guests because that was my first time working in Australia. Mentors and other trainees were very supportive and approachable. It helped me a lot to work one on one with mentors, I’ve learned different tips from different mentors. Scarf helps me to learn my weaknesses and use my strengths in the workplace. After Scarf, I got a job at the Langham Hotel.’

Celebrating their successful graduation from the TP4W program