Café Wangaratta created to support people with disabilities, future employees beyond its four walls

Staff at a social enterprise café in North East Victoria hope to give people with disabilities life skills by improving their welcoming skills and self-confidence.

Where’s my coffee? Wangaratta Coffee will be officially launched tomorrow, Friday, December 3, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021.

Led by VMCH (Villa Maria Catholic Homes), Harley Dalgleish, head of community relations and disability services at the non-profit organization, said the cafe would be a center of learning and an employment avenue for clients of the national invalidity insurance scheme.

Mr Dalgleish said the cafe had employed disability support workers who would help patrons learn and learn new skills, including serving and preparing food and coffee and travel training.

He said the cafe will start to attract customers to the cafe once the staff are fully trained.

Mr Dalgleish said once on board the amount of time customers spend at the hub would vary depending on the individual.

“There is no time limit, they could be here 2 hours a day or 4 hours a day, and they could learn here for 12 weeks or 12 years,” he said.

Beyond the four walls of the cafe

Mr Dalgleish said the cafe staff will also support a customer’s journey to employment.

Looking at seven people gathered around a rectangular table.
Part-time and occasional support staff are trained in both reception and disability. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

“We will help them write their resumes, build their confidence for an interview and if they are successful in securing a new job, our staff will work alongside them in their new job to get started. “

He said staff will also work with a client’s new employer and educate them and their staff about the needs of their new hire.

The café’s team leader, Hannah Panter, will coach and support staff and customers.

Ms Panter said the initiative provided an important employment route for people with disabilities who were often overlooked.

In her previous work on disability, Ms Panter said she had actively sought work for clients with disabilities without success.

“It removes those barriers and gives clients the skills and confidence to get a job,” she said.

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