Emerging filmmaker Jala-Loka serves a fresh new take on the hospitality industry

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

You have heard the stories of how poorly staff in hospitality are treated.

Chefs being underpaid and overworked, and waiters being abused by customers and run mad by management.

Some people might be okay with this, but not Jala-Loka.

He is a man from Launceston on a mission.

The mission: to stare down the barrel of his lens, look over the countertop, and a serve a new hot ‘n’ spicy dish in the hospitality industry.

Jala-Loka is currently working on a documentary film about the pressures facing hospitality staff and highlighting the pioneering efforts of one restaurant going against the grain.

This may sound a little dramatic, and we will do our best to simmer down on the puns, but for Jala-Loka this is no laughing matter.

Jala-Loka is working on this as part of his studies: a Certificate IV in Screen and Media which he studies at TAFE with some help from the EPIC Assist team at Launceston.

EPIC is covering the cost of his tuition fees and providing some of the equipment needed for the course.

Jala-Loka understands the trials and troubles of working in hospitality firsthand. A few years ago, he was training as an apprentice chef, but things were not going to plan.

“Working in the kitchens, I was having breakdowns, depression and bad mental health in general,” he said.

It was at this time that he was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 and ADHD.

Knowing the toll that it was taking, Jala-Loka decided it was time to hit the reset.

“I left my job and spent the next couple of years getting on top of my medication and getting my head a bit more sorted,” he said.

When Jala-Loka’s teacher at TAFE said he needed to come up with a short film, he took some time to rummage the pantry of life and come up with a good idea.

“At the timeI kept seeing stories on Instagram for Dare Darlin saying they we won’t treat workers like this, and we won’t do this,” he said.

“It felt so important for people to hear what they are doing.”

Dare Darlin is a new restaurant in Launceston leading by example on fair work conditions within the hospitality industry.

Dare Darling do this by offering no package salaries, no unpaid overtime, and prioritising mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

“I knew one of the owners of Dare Darlin, Courtney, from back when I was doing my apprenticeship and she was always really nice,” Jala-Loka said.

When Jala-Loka realised he had all the ingredients for the film, it was time to sharpen the knives, turn on the camera, and hit record.

Jala-Loka said making this documentary is a therapeutic exercise on the road to recovery.

“Because of my apprenticeship, I have a lot of knowledge about how hospitality staff are treated, which is pretty bad,” he said.

“I guess in a way it is reassuring to my own mental health that there is change being made to the industry that had a massive impact on my health. It is helping me move on.”

Jala-Loka’s employment consultant, Amy Wright, said, “Jala-Loka has really come out of his shell and his confidence has increased each week while completing the course.”

“The subject matter of his documentary is close to his heart, and you can tell this when he expresses his thoughts and feelings about the story behind the film, a story of better things, a brighter future and a tale of hope.”

Wherever Jala-Loka and his documentary go next, you can be sure EPIC will be there to support him in any way we can.

“Whenever I have needed help, EPIC has always been there for me which has been really lovely,” he said.

Jala-Loka had one last thing to say about his documentary.

“It doesn’t just have to be hospitality, there are so many industries out there that overwork employees and don’t support them in the way they should be,” he said.

“We can all learn, and we can all make a better world.”

If you are looking for a disability employment service that can help you realise your next big goal, contact our friendly team at EPIC Assist today.

Related articles