Box Hill Institute and the Moroccan Soup Bar have collaborated to develop a new program to address the educational needs of disadvantaged women through employment.
The Sprout Program is an accredited training program that formalises a successful model of support and intervention that the Moroccan Soup Bar has been delivering for more than 20 years.
It is delivered in the workplace through a range of nationally accredited English and hospitality training modules and, by bringing education directly into the work space, learning does not compete with the women's livelihood.
By using food and hospitality settings, the Sprout Program turns the chore of cooking as an expectation into an entry point for the women's transition through education.
Moroccan Soup Bar restauranteur and activist, Hana Assafiri said, “Women often face disadvantages that leave them vulnerable to family violence or public and institutionalised violence or both.
"Our objective is to break the cycle of disadvantage for women through employment, and we do this by identifying the practical needs of women and then placing them with trained employers"
Box Hill Institute Board Chair, Jack Diamond said, "We know the key to resilience is education. However, the current modes are either inaccessible or simply not practical to women who are at a social disadvantage.
"The Sprout Program assesses the full educational and life needs of each participant whilst employing them in a safe, validating space," he said.
Phase one of the pilot program has commenced and each person has been assigned a mentor through the Reconnect program and enrolled in English lessons, communication skills and other soft skills lessons. Phase two, delivering hospitality training, is about to commence through a traineeship pathway.
In the future, the partnership will look at different cohorts of women needing additional support through this model, including a group for Aboriginal women at Box Hill Institute's Lilydale campus by the end of this year.
Program participants are encouraged to use this opportunity for education as a way to advocate for others and to champion the causes that left them disadvantaged. Ultimately, the program is based on the strong conviction that when you lift and enable women, you progress the entire society.