WINNERS: Compass Institute trainees on the job.
WINNERS: Compass Institute trainees on the job. Compass Institute

Cooking up a storm with clever social enterprising

LEAVING school can be daunting for any youngster.

But for a person with a disability, it can be a time of extreme uncertainty.

That's why organisations such as Compass Institute are needed.

Compass Institute is a not-for-profit service for school leavers with special needs.

It provides a service that's invaluable to its 100-plus trainees as well as dozens of Sunshine Coast businesses it collaborates with.

Compass Institute won this year's Sunshine Coast Business Award for Collaboration.

Trainees at its six centres from Caboolture to Gladstone learn skills from woodworking to horticulture, cooking to computer work.

"We work really closely with special schools and special education unit (to) gather as much information about the young people and put a curriculum around them so the transition from high school to TAFE or university is seamless," development coordinator DJ McGlynn said.


Learning in numeracy, literacy, health and hygiene continued after school, as well as skilled training.

"We get to a stage in our lives where we've had enough of learning and really want to dip our toes into work," Mr McGlynn said.

Compass has eight social enterprises where the young people use their skills.

At Hunchy, trainees work at a eight-hectare farm, learning about animal husbandry and horticulture. A harvest kitchen is used to make jams, sauces and chutneys from fruit and vegetables harvested at the property, while a nursery involves trainees with less mobility in plant-growing.

A lawnmowing and glass-cleaning business called Rakes and Panes has about 30 contracts with businesses across the Coast, and wood and ceramic products made at two Compass Institute workshops are sold at its shopfront, Wabi Sabi, in the main street of Palmwoods.

Mr McGlynn said it was rewarding to work for an organisation that helped many people in their daily lives.

"A lot of them are coming to Compass with anxiety issues," he said.

"Compass is like their safe haven.

"They're around friends. They get to pat animals."

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