THE Traditionally Grounded Café had its most famous customer walk through the doors this morning.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott joined Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker in a visit to the unique training café for long-term unemployed Aboriginal hospitality workers with disabilities.
Mr Abbott joined Mr Hartsuyker on the Cowper campaign trail in Port Macquarie yesterday and this morning the pair inspected the new bridge being built over the Nambucca River at Macksville as part of the Pacific Hwy upgrade between warrell Creek and Nambucca Heads.
From there it was on to the commercially-run Nambucca Heads coffee shop which employs 11 trainees who've graduated from their Hospitality Certificate II and Barista courses through Coffs Harbour TAFE.
The Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council opened the café in late February with support from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Indigenous Land Corporation to get Aboriginal people who have a disability into the work force and training courses.
"This is a truly inspirational concept which has led to great success for those who signed on to work as hospitality staff and train through TAFE with the cafe," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"All of the trainees have paid work in the café, learn skills on their jobs from both the managers and Coffs Harbour TAFE lecturers and have emerged with recognised qualifications.
"I am told business is going really well since it opened at the start of the year, and the staff have all, without exception made dramatic improvements in their conditions since working at the café."
The staff range in age from 17 to 58 years old and they have disabilities ranging from the chef, who has previously broken his back and others with heart conditions and acquired brain injury.
The graduates were presented with certificates signed by Mr Hartsuyker and Mr Abbott to mark their achievement in graduating from the Hospital Certificate II Course through Coffs Harbour TAFE.
If you're voting in the seat of Cowper, who will you be voting for?
This poll ended on 30 June 2016.
Wayne LAWRENCE - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
Michael GOUGH - Citizens Electoral Council
Carol VERNON - The Greens
Damian WOOD - Labor
Rob OAKESHOTT - Independent
Luke HARTSUYKER - The Nationals
John ARKAN - Independent
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO, Louise Robinson said coffee shop has been well-received in the community.
"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 so encouraging," Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson was recently named the NSW Not for Profit Manager of the Year by the Australian Institute of Management.