A new mini Woolworths supermarket has been unveiled at Omnia Inclusive Employment Solutions in Gosford, NSW as a learning and educational tool for future job-seekers. This will be the first opportunity of its kind to assist adults seeking meaningful and long-term employment.
Known as Omnia Fresh Food, the mini supermarket was brought to life as an extension of the current joint mini Woolworths program between Woolworths and Fujitsu Australia, to include Omnia Inclusive. The initiative is an extension of Woolworths’ and Omnia Inclusive’s long-standing partnership in placing people with a disability into employment and strives to provide candidates with real-world retail experience in a controlled learning environment.
Omnia Fresh Food replicates all aspects of a Woolworths supermarket, including baskets for fresh food, shelving for groceries, ticketing, signage, and Woolworths branded uniforms. At check out, grocery items are scanned using fully operational Fujitsu registers, creating skills such as customer service, money handling and organising, when bagging items – all contributing to literacy and numeracy skills.
Omnia Fresh Food marks the evolution of Woolworths and Fujitsu’s existing program within schools specialising in educating students with intellectual disabilities, sensory disabilities, and autism. This evolution with Omnia Inclusive now expands beyond schools – enabling critical training and educational opportunities for all adults with disability, aged 16 years and up looking to transition into the workplace.
Sharnae Berresford, who lives with autism, landed her dream job at Woolworths just over 12 months ago with the ongoing support of Omnia Inclusive. The dedicated team member from Woolworths Swansea, was awarded the National Checkout Operator of the year at Woolworths’ annual team member of the year awards in October.
Of the new initiative, Sharnae says: “The training centre will be excellent for people who live with a disability, like me, and who want to work at Woolworths like I do. They’ll be able to learn how to use the cash registers, and to stock the shelves, in a relaxed environment, where there are no distractions or pressures. I’m especially excited for high schoolers. They can go from high school to the training centre before they work at the big Woolworths Supermarket. And because they learn everything in the training centre, they have confidence, and they can talk to the customers and enjoy doing their job well from the get-go. Thumbs up!”
To date Woolworths and Fujitsu have launched mini supermarkets in five schools – St Edmund’s College in Wahroonga NSW, St Gabriel’s in Castle Hill NSW, Black Mountain School in Canberra ACT William Rose School in Seven Hills NSW and Mater Dei school in NSW, respectively known as Eddie’s, Gabe’s, BMS, William Rose and Mater Dei Fresh Food stores.
By June this year, the Mini Woolies program will inform and educate over 170 students and job seekers across the country and for 2022, Woolworths and Fujitsu have committed to launch 20 miniature stores.
Mini Woolworths Ambassador Kiara Misciagna is a recent graduate from St Edmund’s College, where, during her senior years she experienced the full effects of the Mini Woolies program. Kiara went on to secure employment with her local Woolworths store where her role includes greeting customers, assisting within the Deli department, and helping replenish stock on shelves – demonstrating the confidence and independence to be gained by job-seekers through the program. Along the way, Kiara received school leavers employment support from Omnia Inclusive and guidance on independent living, social and community support.
Woolworths Group Chief Information Security Officer Pieter van der Merwe said: “As we continue to roll out mini Woolworths supermarkets, we’re really proud of Omnia Fresh Food and the opportunities it will create for future team members.
“Candidates can experience how to shop, what to buy, how to handle money and how to work with weights and measures in a controlled environment. Even the registers are identical to those in our stores today with the same Fujitsu hardware and software, with full intent to sell to customers that visit Omnia Fresh Food.
“We’ve had many success stories of students transitioning skills in the workforce through our programs at schools, and with the success of Sharnae Berresford from Omnia Inclusive, we look forward to hearing updates for Omnia Fresh Food as we support adults in the same manner as we have for schools through the launch of our first site for adults.”
Clare Burden, Head of Industry – Retail, Fujitsu Australia said, “Fujitsu believes in using technology to create a society where all people can participate to their full potential. Fujitsu is thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute to the lives of the future candidates at Omnia Fresh Food as part of our ongoing mini Woolworths engagement.”
Deborrah Lambourne, CEO of Omnia Inclusive Employment Solutions said, “At Omnia Inclusive, we believe every person is valuable and deserves all of life’s opportunities, including access to meaningful employment. We are proud to partner with Woolworths and Fujitsu on Omnia Fresh Food to empower even more individuals through life-changing workplace training opportunities, so they can achieve their long-term career aspirations.
“Omnia, meaning ‘all’ transforms lives by creating opportunity for all, employment for all, and inclusion for all – so there couldn’t be a more perfect initiative than Omnia Fresh Food to align with our vision of fostering true inclusion and belonging for all.”
Omnia Fresh Food in Gosford officially launched with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Liesl Tesch MP, State Member for Gosford. Liesl Tesch MP said “For people with disabilities, work provides a symbol of inclusion in a world determined to side-line us. Being employed says, ‘I value you, I see you and I want to give you the opportunity to see what you can contribute’.
“I want to congratulate Woolworths, Fujitsu and Omnia Inclusive for creating this opportunity – I will be watching it closely to see the many people we can employ locally after this initiative takes shape. People with disabilities need to be in our workplaces and need to be counted.” Liesl Tesch MP is a seven-time Paralympian and gold medalist and has been awarded the Order of Australia. She is the first woman elected to Parliament that lives with a disability.