Job seeker skills flourishing from paddock to plate

A team of Salvation Army Employment Plus job seekers have been busy developing their green thumbs and gourmet palates thanks to a partnership with the Rowville Community Kitchen.

As part of the social enterprise’s program, the job seekers have been growing, preparing, cooking and serving lunch for the local community – giving them the opportunity to gain work experience and foster workplace skills while doing their bit for the community.

“Several of our Employment Plus sites have developed a strong relationship with the Rowville Community Kitchen, so we were delighted to be able to introduce 25 of our Work for the Dole candidates to the program earlier in the year,” said Garry Brennan, Salvation Army Employment Plus’ Work For the Dole Coordinator.

“Since joining the program, they have helped establish the community garden, trained in the commercial kitchen, served at the weekly local community lunch, practiced their retail skills at the organisation’s marketplace stall and fulfilled catering orders for local schools and businesses – all valuable skills to secure future employment.”

The Employment Plus job seeker team worked with staff from Bunnings and The Stamford Park Men’s Shed to establish the community gardens, creating an impressive vertical wall of herbs and 13 garden beds.

“Each job seeker was involved in the initial planning and selection of the herbs and vegetables to be included in the garden and are also responsible for the ongoing upkeep and delivery to the Rowville Community Kitchen to include in meals,” explained Garry.

“This hands-on approach has been fantastic at honing their skills and getting them outside, active and closer to the earth – all for a great cause.”

The Rowville Community Kitchen is a not-for-profit initiative developed by a group of committed food professionals with the impressive vision of using food to overcome barriers to a better life. The organisation’s work experience pathways include customer services skills, high volume cooking, digital and design competencies, general administration tasks and retailing. The weekly community lunch is served to the disadvantaged, disabled and aged residents of the City of Knox, and in excess of 24,000 delicious meals have been served in the community kitchen to nearly 9,000 socially isolated people since the program’s inception.

“Our vision over the next four years is to train, nurture and see 6,000 job seekers gain employment – and our partnership with Employment Plus is helping this vision become a reality,” said Christine Smith from Rowville Community Kitchen.

“Garry and the Employment Plus sites were integral in identifying our wonderful job seekers to participate in the program and continually mentoring them along the way.

“Their contribution to the program and their fabulous community garden really is inspiring.”

Find out more

For information on hosting a Work for the Dole activity call 136 123 or visit