Kymberly Martin
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Woolworths opens new disability training centre

A new mini-Woolworths supermarket was unveiled at Omnia Inclusive Employment Solutions in Gosford, NSW said to be a first of its kind initiative to assist adults with disability seeking long-term employment.

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Known as Omnia Fresh Food, the mini-supermarket is an extension of the current mini- Woolworths program between Woolworths and Fujitsu Australia to include Omnia Inclusive. This addition to Woolworth’s and Ominia Inclusive’s partnership places people with a disability into employment by providing 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.  

It extends the existing program within schools specialising in educating students with intellectual disabilities, sensory disabilities and autism. This program 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.

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Sharnae Berresford, who has autism, landed her job at Woolworths 12 months ago with the support of Omnia Inclusive.

 “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 will learn how to use the cash registers and stock the shelves in a relaxed environment, where there are no distractions or pressures,” she said. “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 to talk to the customers and enjoy doing their job well.”

To date, Woolworths and Fujitsu have launched mini supermarkets in five schools in Sydney and Canberra. By June this year, the mini-Woolworths 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.

Workplace specialist Job Centre Australia recently rebranded to Omnia Inclusive Employment Solutions.

Caption: Jimmy and Sharnae Berresford