We're a local church in Wynyard, a rural town of about 6000 people on Tasmania’s North West Coast, who want to help make a significant and lasting change in our community for the better.
We're partnering with architectural firm S. Group to develop a fully operational teaching kitchen and café where anyone and everyone can develop hospitality skills that will not only provide them with employment opportunities but also important life skills.
Our first target is $2000 to get a staged plan together.
Harry and Bec Cuthbertson are the pastors of New Life Church and are heading up the project. Here is their story:
In 2014 My wife and I picked up our little family, left our friends and jobs in Hobart, sold our house and moved to Wynyard to take on the role of pastors of New Life Church. Not long after we moved, there was a meeting in Burnie which included some high-profile pastors from around Australia. I was due to pick one of them up from the airport and drive him to Burnie. I collected him from the Burnie Airport in Wynyard and nervously, to make small talk I asked, “Have you ever been to Wynyard?”
“Yeah” he replied, “There’s nothing there”.
At the time I was taken aback, I didn’t say much and I think he realised pretty quickly he’d put his foot in it. However, I understand where the source of that sentiment. On August 16, 2014 Journalist Greg Bearup wrote an article for The Australian titled “What prospects do Burnie’s young unemployed really have?” In it he outlined the difficulties the young people of the North-West coast of Tasmania have finding meaningful employment:
“More than 20 per cent of Burnie’s youth are unemployed, the highest rate in Australia. They live in a state that has the lowest Years 11 and 12 retention rates in the country; where literacy skills are consistently assessed as being below the national average”
“unemployment continues to rise and there are now four job agencies and another three for the disabled, in a town of 17,000, seeking to place a couple of thousand unemployed into positions that don’t exist.”
The future of our new-found home sounded pretty bleak.
Pastoring is my calling, but I supplement my income by cooking. I was catering for a party just after this article was released and a head-chef soon-to-be-boss/friend of mine came into the kitchen after service and started to complain that he couldn't get cooks for his busy cafe in Boat Harbour. This seems to be a problem right across the industry: It’s hard to get staff in hospitality. In November 2014 ABC.net.au published an article titled “Hundreds of job vacancies in Tasmanian hospitality sector despite high jobless rate” discussing the problem of unemployment in a time when one sector is crying out for quality employees. In the past three years this hasn't really changed. However, at least the government is planning a way forward according to an article written by Jennifer Crawley published by the Herald Sun on August 23, 2016 titled “Bold five-year plan to boost hospitality jobs” describes the plan to promote paths into the hospitality industry through schools. Whilst this may increase the number of people wanting to get into the industry, I do question if it will simply shift employable young people into hospitality rather than some other industry or whether it will actually create opportunities for young people who otherwise would have been unemployable.
We believe we have something special in Wynyard, we have a strong community spirit, amazing local produce, and people with grit and determination who are passionate about this town.
Jesus set the example when he demonstrated his love for all people through his life and death. I strongly believe that the Christian Church should be a place that gives practical hope and purpose to people in their everyday lives.
I can see New Life Church becoming a hub of activity for the community in the future. It will be a place where parents can come on a rainy day and meet friends for coffee. They can bring their kids who can play together in the playground, rain or shine. It will be a place where people who are new to the area can come and make friends and get involved in local activities; a place to meet, learn about and buy from local growers and makers from the area as they become part of this community.
I can see a place that can host local art, business and educational events; a place where local businesses and community groups can organise meetings and staff training in a relaxed and professional environment.
Underneath all of that, I can see this being a place of training. A place where people new to this country or with few or no job prospects can come and receive high quality training, workplace mentorship from industry professionals and can discover the value of hard work in their lives. I see a passionate environment where passion is infectious. Passion for quality local farm to table ingredients, passion for high standards in service, technique and presentation, Passion to work hard to create something special and experience the feeling of joy that comes with that. I see a place that gives hope to people with little hope for the future and helps them gain knowledge and life skills to gain meaningful employment. I can see mentors continue in their role after trainees have got a job, working with employers to ensure smooth transitions, workplace support and long-term employment.
I see a flagship for sustainability in Tasmania. A property that produces more than it uses up, that runs on green energy and works out ways to reduce waste wherever possible. A place that increases awareness and resources local community members to live in a more sustainable manner at home. I see a symbiotic relationship existing between the community garden and the kitchen with produce coming into the kitchen whilst grey water and waste are used to grow more produce.
Speaking of sustainability, I see this whole project as being self-sustaining, not simply relying on government grants or ‘go-fund-me’ campaigns all the time to continue the work. I believe the center will create enough revenue to sustain and grow itself because I believe in the local community’s support for a project like this.
Stats in Wynyard:
Wynyard doesn’t have a local function center, even Burnie only really has the football grounds. If a local business wants to do staff training or if a training organisation wants to run an up-skilling course where do they go?
According to the census taken in 2011 (Data for the most recent census is yet to be released)
The average age of a person living in Wynyard is getting older. This could be because of the lack of opportunity in the area for young people.
Around 65% of people living in Wynyard have no greater qualification than year 12 graduation
Unemployment in Wynyard is down to 5.06 which is better than the state average
What we want to see:
A state of the art, sustainable, boutique, community function center that attracts attention from all over Australia featuring:
A high quality social enterprise cafe with the focus of using local, seasonal produce for training and mentoring those with few job prospects
A community garden that gives people hands on learning experiences about horticulture, health and sustainability.
A 120 seat auditorium and smaller conference rooms
An undercover playground
Things we want to do:
Create opportunities for people with little or no experience to receive hands-on training and education in the hospitality industry, providing them with mentors during and after training and working with them to open doors in hospitality.
Life skills education programs and short courses including: Healthy home cooking, technology, leadership, marriage and family, finance… etc.
Events that educate and feed the community, especially, but not exclusive to, the lower socioeconomic demographic.
Growers and makers market in the garden
After school and holiday programs for children
These are some ideas of what could be. Would you join with us to make these ideas a reality?
- Emma Devo
- Richard Hawley
- Katy Tait
- Sarah Gracie
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