Coffee with a conscience at new-look NAB branch is a Wise inclusion

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When asylum seeker Yusef* was offered the chance to gain experience to help build his hopes of finding on-going employment in Australia he was initially fearful.

“To do this role, I thought I would need to speak English fluently and I was concerned that my English would not be good enough,” he said.

But the former Wise Barista Program participant needn’t have worried, graduating with a newfound self-confidence.

“In reality, I learnt that my English was good enough to make a connection with people, share Wise Foundation stories and assist my customers with their needs. I am confident and comfortable applying for employment opportunities. It has reduced stress relating to my financial status.”

NAB has brought the Wise Foundation on-board to help more people like Yusef at the new flagship branch in central Sydney.

The charity’s Wise Barista Program provides professional training for people seeking asylum and who are facing barriers to employment. Program participants work for a fixed six-month period during which time they gain valuable employment experience within Australia.

NAB Executive General Manager of Retail, Bob Melrose, said the program was an exciting inclusion at the new branch.

“One of the unique elements we have factored into the branch design is the ability to pilot new products and services,” Mr Melrose said.

“This is the first time we’ve had a café inside one of our branches, and our thinking was, ‘how can we make the most of this opportunity? How can we make this a good thing for both our customers and the community?’

“We’re excited to have our first two baristas on board working as part of the NAB team. They are not only on a career path into the hospitality industry, but they’re also interacting with our customers, offering a friendly smile as well as a free coffee.”

“Over time we have seen our branch staff dealing with fewer basic over the counter transactions, instead taking more time with customers to have in-depth conversations about their financial needs. To have that chat over a cup of coffee was a natural extension to this.”

Wise Foundation General Manager, Mandy Glassey, said it was great to see NAB embrace the cause.

“This initiative is aimed at training individuals facing barriers to employment to become baristas,” Ms Glassey said.

“Working with our recruitment partners, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (Melbourne) and the Asylum Seekers Centre (Sydney), we are providing training and experience and a pathway to enable rapid acceptance into the hospitality industry.

“The Wise Barista Program has potential to provide a widely accepted platform into a growing employment area.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of program participants

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