Brewing success in Karoonda

Community stories: 24 April 2024

In an effort to empower local youth and provide employment skills, Karoonda District Council successfully secured a $10,000 FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant under the 2022 idea, ‘Discover Your Future’, with a project that is now brewing success for local youth.

The project, spearheaded by the council’s Youth Action Committee (YAC), aimed to provide professional training and entrepreneurial opportunities for young individuals in the small regional area, located 150 km east of Adelaide. With just 17 council staff and a population of 1,090 spread over 4,415 km2, the council recognised the need for initiatives that would not only develop skills for local youth, but also nurture future leaders and provide a funding source for future youth projects.

The YAC is a group of young people aged between 12-25 designed to develop the leadership and life skills of its members. The group discusses youth issues and helps to organise youth and community events. The YAC members identified barista training as a versatile skill set crucial for enhancing employment prospects in Karoonda. With just two cafés in town, local youth faced challenges in gaining this skill set, compared to their metropolitan counterparts.

Unable to secure a trainer on site in Karoonda, the  fifteen young people aged between 13 and 20, attended training at the HG Coffee School in Adelaide. While this made for a long day, the change of site had a hidden benefit – the travel together on the bus provided valuable binding time for the young people and council staff.

The training covered theoretical and practical aspects, ranging from coffee styles to customer service and machine hygiene. From there, participants received their internationally-recognised Level 1 barista certification. From this training, two young individuals secured part-time employment locally, while three others found opportunities in Adelaide, underscoring the effectiveness of the barista training in enhancing employability.

However, the project didn’t conclude with training alone. With the acquisition of a coffee machine and equipment, the YAC established a mobile coffee business strategically located at the Karoonda Institute, a community building owned by the council and a hub for civic and community events. The youth were involved in planning and discussing different business models and the best way to run a mobile coffee setup for their community. This mini social enterprise not only provides a local platform for youth to hone their skills, but also generates ongoing revenue to support future activities and ideas by the Youth Action Committee, ensuring their sustainability and lasting impact.