Ignite Cafe, the newest venture of Jesuit Social Services Western Sydney was launched on 19 November 2011 during the formal opening of The Mount Druitt Hub to a packed crowd that included Tony Burke, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Water, Population and Communities, the Member of Parliament for Chifley, Ed Husic, and Blacktown Mayor Alan Pendleton.
The cafe, located on the ground floor within the library, is the latest Jesuit Social Services project in its education, training and employment program, which closely follows the launch of the Mount Druitt Community Enterprise Hub within the Holy Family Parish grounds in Emerton (also known as The Store).
According to Michael Maxwell, Social Services Manager at Jesuit Social Services Western Sydney, this project resulted from a winning tender granted by Blacktown City Council for a cafe to run as a social enterprise that delivers job training and social inclusion outcomes. Its win was based on the demonstrated success of The Store at Emerton, which currently houses a food store, café, op–shop, monthly community markets and training programs in partnership with TAFE.
However there was something more significant than sales of coffee at this event. ‘We don’t employ people to make coffee, but we make coffee to train and employ people. So for Jesuit Social Services, it’s continuing that training and employment pathway that we do through Jesuit Community College, The Store and what we do here,’ emphasized Mr Maxwell.
‘It’s creating pathways or opportunities, turning stumbling blocks of disadvantage into stepping stones of opportunities.’
The launch of the cafe signals the involvement of Jesuit Social Services into the broader sphere of civic life in the Western Sydney region. The Mount Druitt Hub was envisioned to provide a space for other community service groups to deliver increased access to programs and projects for disengaged and unemployed young people. It is in this context that the role of Ignite Cafe becomes significant.
As local MP Ed Husic described, ‘As the name suggests, it will become a hub for many activities carried in, outside and around Mount Druitt, a magnet for community life, whether it be the younger residents who will be able to use all the resources in the library, those attending social events at the Seniors’ Citizens Centre or enjoying a coffee while reading the newspaper downstairs.’
This project also highlights the success of the Jesuit Social Services approach through the development of people’s potential and partnership with community. Mr Maxwell explained, ‘That’s the exciting thing, that’s part of the reason why we got this one. Half of those who start our retail training program get a job. These numbers are higher than anything else in TAFE’s retail course program. TAFE has fewer figures for their completion rate, let alone employment rate. So it’s really working.’
The cafe’s name references the second decree of General Congregation (GC) 35, ‘a fire that kindles other fires.’ The name not only alludes to its Ignatian ties but offers a nod to its local training partner TAFE Western Sydney, which also houses its own Create Cafe.
Thus the GC 35 narrative of promoting justice and dialogue to ‘new frontiers’ continues to burn brightly in this enterprise. This mission of working in unity with diverse peoples, communities and institutions was best summed up in the words of Darug elder Uncle Greg Simms, who performed A Welcome to Country during the formal opening of the Mount Druitt Hub:
‘We must remember that we live in one community of many cultures, and we all have to live together side by side. And we can come together and share our remarkable stories and our knowledge. Then we can move forward.
We’ll never have knowledge unless we do this. Because we’re all one people here, there’s no difference, there’s only one race and that’s the human race.’
Ignite Cafe is at The Library @ The Mount Druitt Hub, Ayres Grove, Mt Druitt NSW 2770, For more information on The Mount Druitt Hub contact Council on (02) 9839 6000, for information on the Library call (02) 8886 2000 or visit www.libraries.blacktown.nsw.gov.au.
By Giselle Lapitan
Photo caption: (Top) left to right, Michael Maxwell, Tony Burke MP, Ed Husic MP and Cr Alan Pendleton.