A cafe grounded in compassion and hope

22 March, 2016

A cafe grounded in compassion and hope

After almost a decade without a job, it had got to the point where Amanda Jarrett thought she would never work again. She was in her home town of Nambucca Heads, had escaped from domestic violence and recovered from a serious illness. Mentally, she says, she was very low.

“I was thinking of selling all my possessions and taking my son up to Brisbane to try and start again. I was looking for a sign as to why I shouldn’t do that.”

The next morning her phone rang. It was about a new cafe that the Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council was setting up to get Aboriginal people who have a disability or are long term unemployed into the work force.

Amanda was one of 12 local people given traineeships at Traditionally Grounded, an organic food cafe that the Local Aboriginal Land Council opened in late February with support from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Indigenous Land Corporation.

Amanda works at the cafe for 15 hours a week and like the other trainees is studying for a Certificate II in Hospitality at the North Coast TAFE.

Another trainee is Amanda’s cousin, Lorraine, who combines her work at the cafe with raising three children under seven.

“I had my kids young and never worked,” Lorraine said. “I wanted to get into the hospitality industry but with no experience I just didn’t have the confidence to apply for jobs. But now I like making coffees and I feel my confidence is growing each day, particularly when it comes to talking to the customers.”

“My kids love me being at work and say they’re proud of me.”

Ranging in age from 18 to 58, all of the trainees have 12-month contracts. At the end of the year some will stay on as supervisors while the others will have an improved chance of gaining long term work.

Traditionally Grounded serves locally sourced, organic, free range and pesticide-free food wherever possible. It has also begun stocking gift items from the Land Council’s nearby Eco Store.

Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO, Louise Robinson said the response from local residents has been very encouraging.

“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 fantastic,” Louise said.

The cafe is the latest in the Nambucca LALC’s growing portfolio of businesses. For some years the LALC has operated its Eco Store, which began stocking toys when the local Toyworld franchise closed down.

For her efforts, Ms Robison was recently named the NSW Not for Profit Manager of the Year by the Australian Institute of Management.

“It’s all about increasing the prosperity of our community without leaving anyone behind,” Louise said.

“That’s why targeting people with a disability is so important. I’m really proud of the fact that as a result of our café opening, every Aboriginal person in Nambucca who has a disability and is eligible for work now has a job.”

Amanda says the Traditionally Grounded café has given her the incentive to “take a step towards bigger and better things.”

“I want to one day study law or health and this experience will hopefully get me a job in hospitality while I’m doing that.

She says her eight-year old son, Levi is her greatest supporter.

“We’ve been through a lot, him and me, but he says he’s proud of me. The other day was cold and I joked with him that we should stay under the covers and watch movies all day

But Levi said: “No way, Mum. I love school and you’ve got to get to work!’”

The Traditionally Grounded Café is on Ridge Street, Nambucca Heads and is open between 6am and 5pm weekdays and 6am to 1pm on Saturdays.


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.