LOYALTY runs deep for former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and he was only too happy yesterday to call into Nambucca Heads to support a mate and former Minister in local MP Luke Hartsuyker.
Mr Abbott, in town to celebrate the graduation of a group of Indigenous students from their Hospitality Certificate III and Barista courses, acknowledged Mr Hartsuyker was in the fight of his life to hold Cowper at the July 2 election.
“Well Luke is a friend,” Mr Abbott told the Guardian. “He was an excellent minister in the Abbott Government – he has a fight on his hands because this is not a seat that can be taken for granted, and that’s why I’m here to help.”
Mr Abbott has an active interest in Indigenous affairs and was on site at Traditionally Grounded café to mark the students’ achievements.
He sampled the fares, was taught how to, and even made, a coffee and presented certificates to the group of graduates.
“It’s satisfying seeing this kind of business – what do we need in aboriginal communities, what do we need in all economically challenged communities?” Mr Abbott said.
“We need the kids to go to school and we need the adults to go to work and this is a great opportunity for Indigenous people to work in a meaningful way and to learn the skills and work culture which will stand them in good stead.”
Traditionally Grounded is a unique training cafe for long-term unemployed Aboriginal hospitality workers with disabilities and currently has 11 trainees – from 17 to 58 years old – employed there. The shop was opened with support from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Indigenous Land Corporation to get Aboriginal people who have a disability into the work force and training courses.
Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO, Louise Robinson said the food and beverages had been well-received in the community.
“As well as the coffees and meals our trainees prepare and sell in the cafe, we’ve already had a few catering jobs and the feedback has been so encouraging,” Ms Robinson said.
“The staff from Chess have also been instrumental in preparing and caring for the staff.”
Mr Hartsuyker was enthusiastic about the café and its success and congratulated all the graduates.
“This is a truly inspirational concept which has led to great success for those who signed on to work as hospitality staff,” he said.
“All trainees have paid work in the café, learn skills on their jobs from both the managers and their lecturers and have emerged with recognised qualifications.”