Inclusion on the Menu at Maryborough Cafe

Friday, 2 August 2019

Owner of Maryborough’s POPIN on Kent café, Deb, knows that the staff members she has employed through local disability employment service EPIC Assist are (in the words of the café’s namesake Mary Poppins), “practically perfect in every way.”

Deb had a clear vision that her café would not only serve the best coffee, juice and food in town, but that it would also break down barriers in the workplace for people with disability and provide a space so that everyone who walks through their doors feels comfortable.

When Deb moved the cafe to its current premises in late 2018 she contacted EPIC to talk about how they could help her find the right staff for her business.

Since then, Deb has brought on five job seekers – Gavin, Teresa, Matthew, Catherine, and Sarah in customer service and kitchen hand roles. She says that the support EPIC has provided along the entire journey has made all the difference.

“It’s been a great experience. Looking back to when they first started to now, they’ve just come out of their shell and progressed so much,” says Deb.

“Gavin was the first person we hired, and he’s great. He’s very structured and needs to know what he has to do each day, so we created a task list for him and he follows that to a tee.”

Deb spent much of her life working alongside people with disability and injury. After years of working in injury services, she says that it’s good to be able to give people with disability a go and help them get paid to do something they love.

“They should be treated the same as everyone else – as an individual. Everyone deserves the chance to work a job they love without fear of discrimination,” says Deb.

Rachel Azzopardi, the Regional Coordinator at EPIC, says that POPIN café is a great example of an inclusive and understanding employer that goes the extra mile.

“It’s really excellent to see an organisation that puts diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their business,” says Rachel.

“We’re passionate about finding the right person for the right role. Our ultimate goal is sustainable employment, and POPIN café is really serving up wonderful opportunities for people with disability.”

EPIC participant, Sarah Mobbs, stands behind a shop counter with cafe owner, Deb. She is serving a customer.
EPIC participant, Sarah Mobbs, working with POPIN cafe owner Deb

For Deb, it means everything to be an inclusive employer and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Every day, her employees bring their best to the café and they certainly make it who it is today.

For any other businesses thinking of opening their doors and employing people with disability, Deb says to give it everything.

“EPIC is a great organisation to work with. They go above and beyond in everything they do. They’ve been there for me every step of the way,” says Deb.

“I recommend them to anyone thinking of hiring someone with a disability. Not only will you get enjoyment out of seeing your employee grow and progress, but they will also be a great, reliable staff member.”

Check out POPIN’ on Kent’s Facebook page to learn about their business, and the EPIC Assist page to find out how your business can provide opportunities for local job seekers with a disability.

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