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Catering to students with dreams

The fifth graduation ceremony for cooking graduates from the Yaama Dhiyaan course was held last month. More than 60 students have now graduated from the course, this being the fourth graduation ceremony this year writes Ben Falkenmire in the South Sydney Herald of November 2007.

Trainer and maternity symbol Aunty Beryl was almost in tears as she instructed the graduates ranging in ages from 16 to 44 to “follow your dreams”.

“Half this mob have jobs already,” she told the SSH. “[This course] is a stepping stone, it builds up their self esteem. I know they will have a better future.”

After the formal receipt of awards the graduates, their family and friends and other attendees feasted on the cooking centre’s offerings: drunk roo pies, smoked salmon tartlets with waligal (a native spinach from around Homebush Bay) and wattleseed and chocolate truffles.

Corey Milich-Haley was the only male graduate in the eight-week course. The 17 year old from out near Parramatta had recently left home and heard about the course through a friend’s mother. Coming back next course to “firm up” some skills he will then look for full-time employment.

A mother of 11 kids Salote Cook knew how to cook native Tongan food but was more interested in Australian food. “I dream of running my own catering business,” Salote said. “My son is attending the next course so he can [eventually] come and work for me.” The 44 year old has secured a job with Compass and will apply for an apprenticeship in the future.

An initiative of the Redfern Waterloo Authority, Yaama Dhiyaan is open to Redfern and Waterloo residents, but is also attracting people from outside the area. This concerns Geoff Turnbull from REDWatch who said, “What the RWA is supposed to be doing is addressing the issues of the local Indigenous community and creating employment for them”. Mr Turnbull argues a stronger focus should be made on local families with generational unemployment.

If you are local get involved. Call Yaama on 9202 9100 to find out more.

Photo: Ben Falkenmire Caption: Salote Cook

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2007