A society which celebrates diversity and has equitable employment opportunities for all young people.
To create an inclusive and supportive environment for young people to gain hospitality knowledge, skills and experience. To foster social and professional networks so that participants have the confidence and connections to gain meaningful employment.
Who We Work With
Scarf provides opportunities to 18 – 28 year olds facing barriers to work (specifically those who are long-term unemployed), including:
- young people currently seeking protection
- young people from a refugee background
- young people from a migrant background
Scarf training sessions, dinners and events are top quality. Trainees, trainers, mentors, restaurant partners, training venues and sponsors are all proud to be part of Scarf.
Everyone has the right to access training and employment opportunities, and to feel a sense of belonging in their community.
We nurture meaningful mentoring relationships based on mutual respect and value for both mentor and mentee. Mentoring at Scarf is beneficial and empowering for all parties.
Individuality is an asset, and Scarf programs proudly represent a diverse slice of our community.
Whilst encouraging the individuality and creativity of each person, we focus on ‘togetherness’ and what we can achieve as a team when we are all working towards the same goal.
We aim to creatively solve the barriers that young people face when seeking employment in the hospitality industry.
We believe in the importance of hard work and fun in equal measure.
Who is Scarf?
At Scarf, we transform the lives of young refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants by getting them into work while adding flavour and heart to the hospitality industry. Founded in 2010, Scarf is a not-for-profit social enterprise that partners with restaurants and other hospitality businesses to provide meaningful training, mentoring and employment opportunities to our participants. We provide a positive, real-world experience for our young trainees, who have faced significant barriers to work. They are paid, valued, become part of a learning community, and move on to meaningful jobs with confidence, supportive relationships, and excitement.
Why did Scarf start?
We had observed first hand the complex barriers to employment that are faced by young people seeking protection and those from a refugee or migrant background. Then we learned that unemployment rates amongst humanitarian migrants can be staggeringly high – up to 43%. Scarf was founded to break down these barriers and change that statistic. We’re on a mission to create an inclusive and supportive environment for young people to gain hospitality knowledge, skills and experience. We’re also advocating for more inclusive hiring practices in the hospitality industry. Our vision is a society which celebrates diversity and has equitable employment opportunities for all young people!
What difference does Scarf make?
- Since 2010, we’ve run 16 ten-week programs offering over 140 paid trainee positions
- We’ve provided over 4,800 hours of paid training
- We have a 92% retention rate for trainees who engage in the program
- Upon graduating from Scarf, 94% of trainees rate their confidence to find a job as 5 out of 5
- 70% of Scarf graduates have found meaningful employment within six months of completing the program
- Scarf trainees have gone on to fantastic jobs at venues such as Sofitel on Collins, The Plough Hotel, The Lincoln, Sun Moth Canteen and Bar, Biggie Smalls, The Moor’s Head, The Penny Black, The Dancing Dog, Peter Rowlands Catering, Mount Zero Olives, Cookie, Crown, Hell of the North and Bibendum Wine
What does Scarf look like?
We partner with Melbourne’s best restaurants to run three 10-week seasonal programs per year, each providing trainee places to eight young people. These seasonal programs include hands-on hospitality training sessions and up to ten dinner services, where professional chefs cook and Scarf trainees serve customers (80-90 per night), while supported by their mentors. We’ve served dinner to over 10,000 customers since 2010 and we’ve run Scarf Dinners from places like Higher Ground Melbourne, Rupert on Rupert, The Lincoln and Green Park Dining,
What else do you do?
We recently piloted a new, shorter training program called Scarf Tasting Plate, in partnership with the Australian Red Cross. We run two annual fundraising and awareness-building initiatives; the Do More Than Drink campaign in conjunction with over 30 of Melbourne’s best bars, and Do More Than Dine, a high-profile fundraising dinner (most recently hosted by Matt Preston at ARC ONE Gallery with food by Cumulus Inc). We also operate two formalised Work Placement Programs, which see a number of Scarf graduates being hired by renowned hospitality businesses. Formal relationships have commenced with Top Paddock and the Colonial Leisure Group (across a number of venues) and plans are afoot to further grow these relationships. And, we sell Scarf Dinners Gift Certificates and offer a range of limited edition, seasonal merchandise that help fund our core programs. Check out our online shop over at Good Spender.
What can I expect at a Scarf Dinner?
An excellent dining experience! A Scarf Dinner is similar to any night out in a great restaurant, except that by dining with Scarf, you’re making a real difference to the lives of young people who have faced barriers to work. The chefs from our partner restaurant design and cook a set menu, and Scarf trainees and mentors take care of the front of house. Expect delicious food, attentive service, a fun and buzzy atmosphere and the opportunity to provide valuable feedback to help educate our trainees and strengthen their skills.
If you dine at Scarf early in the season, nerves might be quite high and there may not be a perfect reciting of the menu! Towards the end of the season you’ll probably see the trainees owning the floor while telling their mentors to back off (nicely)! Some people like to dine early and late in the season, to really see the trainees’ journey.
But hey, don’t just listen to us! Here are some words from a recent Scarf diner:
“The food was delicious and knowing that we were contributing to something socially important made the dining experience meaningful. I am going home with a full tummy and a smile!”
What is the Scarf Bookings Policy?
Scarf bookings are to be made on our website, via our excellent sponsor, Dimmi. The amount of people you book for is equal to the amount of pre-paid “tickets” you are snapping up. Your credit card will be charged at $40 per person (which covers a two course set menu of entrée and main) for each seat being booked. These tickets are non-refundable. If you are unable to attend the Scarf Dinner for which you have booked, you are welcome to offer your ticket/s to somebody else. If you have a Scarf Dinners Gift Certificate which you plan to redeem at the dinner you’re booking into, book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than pre-paying through Dimmi. This policy was introduced in March 2016 due to an increasing number of cancellations, which significantly affect our bottom line and threaten our program’s viability.
Why do I have to pre-pay for a Scarf Dinner?
As a social enterprise, we have myriad operating costs, including paying wages to our trainees and our small, dedicated team. We also pay our partner restaurants for confirmed catering numbers, which must be provided in advance.
Scarf Dinners are a unique experience which involve lots of people – Scarf trainees, mentors and staff; our partner restaurants and their chefs; and you guys, our awesome customers. Having a set amount of pre-booked, pre-paid seats means each Scarf Dinner is patronised by the right amount of people to ensure that:
(1) Scarf trainees get industry-relevant learning experience in a busy restaurant,
(2) the partner venue’s kitchen can adequately prepare food and manage orders on the night,
(3) Scarf customers have a fantastic dining experience, and
(4) Scarf remains a viable and sustainable social enterprise.
The chefs from Scarf’s changing partner restaurants design the Scarf Dinner menu and cook on the night. This is a business relationship between Scarf and our partner restaurants, and we must confirm catering numbers with the chefs so they can adequately prepare and staff each dinner. If 80 people book for a Scarf Dinner, but only 72 arrive on the night (a common occurrence), the restaurant has still ordered and prepared food for 80 customers. Scarf pays for this. Over the course of a season, this loss greatly affects our bottom line.
But I’m a loyal customer who always shows up to my booking! What’s this got to do with me?
We are hugely appreciative of the incredibly loyal community of Scarf diners who support our trainees by attending Scarf Dinners. But our program’s financial viability is consistently traced back to last minute cancellations and drops in booking numbers, an issue which negatively affects many restaurants.
Scarf Dinners now regularly book out ahead of time, which is great news! We often go into a dinner service with the dining room fully set up, and the expectation of around 80 diners. Sometimes we have waiting lists, but when the number of guests changes at the beginning of dinner service, it is too late to make use of it.
A typical Scarf Dinner sees the following changes in numbers. We have 80 people booked in and confirmed. And then, on the night, a large group booking of 12 arrives with only 9 in their party. A group of 5 drops to 4, a group of 8 becomes 6, and a table of 2 cancels at the last minute. These 8 seats which have been booked, and which cannot be filled at this late stage, equates to around $480 in lost income, based on our average spend per head. Over the course of one season, this adds up to almost $4,000. This would cover the trainees’ wages for two thirds of the program.
Our new, pre-paid bookings system is a simple solution to ensure the financial sustainability of Scarf Dinners. We need you, our awesome customers, to be accountable for your bookings and to honour them. If you can’t attend at the last minute, please find someone who can! Having the security of tickets being purchased upfront means our team can tick that off our long list of things to do, and get on with working with our trainees, mentors, trainers and partner restaurants. These people make Scarf what it is, and they’re all working to make sure you have a positive and memorable Scarf experience while you support our awesome trainees.
Where does Scarf operate from?
Restaurants mainly, with the odd bar pop up or event. Generally, we partner with one restaurant at a time and run weekly dinners for a ten week Scarf Dinner season. We have been lucky to work with some of the top names in the hospitality industry including Higher Ground Melbourne, Rupert on Rupert, The Empress Hotel, The Lincoln, Green Park Dining, Rumi, Easy Tiger, Jorg, Epocha, Union Dining, Mesa Verde, Markov and Top Paddock. Every now and then we ‘pop up’ for a night in a fabulous bar (like Pallino in Thornbury) so make sure you’re on our mailing list to be the first to hear about these special one-off events.
Who are the trainees?
Scarf provides front of house training opportunities to people seeking protection, refugees and new migrants who are facing barriers to employment. Our participants are often long-term unemployed, and we work with young people aged between 18 to 28 years old. When we do a call out for new trainees, our eligibility criteria looks like this.
How does recruitment work?
We recruit a new group of eight young people as front-of-house trainees each season. We accept referrals from organisations like Red Cross, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Foundation House, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Orygen Youth Health, Life Without Barriers and SAIL. We also accept personal referrals – so long as a young person meets our eligibility criteria, we will consider them for a place in our program. Here’s something a case worker said after a Scarf graduate she’d referred was seeking work:
“Scarf offers a very realistic hospitality experience. One client was recently offered a trial in a cafe – he said that if it wasn’t for his Scarf training, he would have really struggled and felt overwhelmed, and possibly not shown up at all. The Scarf model is more flexible and adaptable to individual needs.”
So… what is Scarf?
We identify as a social enterprise, because we run a lot like a business but we have a social mission. In 2014 we became a registered charity (Public Benevolent Institution) and were endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (under Subdivision 30-BA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997). This means that you can make a tax deductible donation to Scarf, which is pretty great. Donations are used for training costs and trainee wages. Our ABN is 58 145 518 583.
I keep hearing about Scarf’s sponsors. How does that work?
Since Scarf was founded in 2010, we have enjoyed product sponsorship from great companies including red + white and Mezzanine wine, Little Creatures and The West Winds Gin. Many hospitality businesses support us with donated products and training sessions, which are core to our model.
Are Scarf’s partner restaurants sponsors, too?
Not exactly. Our restaurant partners play a hugely important role – without them we couldn’t run dinners! We pay our restaurant partners to cater the dinners, bring in our own drinks, and then when you dine at Scarf you pay us for what you eat and drink, which creates income for Scarf.
But who actually funds Scarf?
Our operations are currently around 70% self-funded. This means that our training programs (which include wages for our trainees) are mainly paid for by you, our dinner guests. When you pay for your Scarf Dinner, you are literally paying for the young people in our program to gain the skills, knowledge, confidence and connections that Scarf provides. Tips are put towards trainee support and our graduation dinner, an important celebration at the end of the program. Your support is two-fold; we need plenty of diners so our trainees get experience serving real customers, and we need your dollars so that we can pay our small, dedicated team of staff to make it all happen. We face many of the same operating costs as other businesses, like office rent, insurance and stationery (you should see how many pens and notepads we go through!)
Whilst we continue on our mission to become fully self-funded, we currently utilise philanthropic support from The Morris Family Foundation and Solidarity Accor. In the past we have received support from Inner North Community Foundation, The RE Ross Trust, StreetSmart and City of Melbourne.
What sort of training happens at Scarf?
It’s as hands-on as it can be, because we reckon that’s where the real learning happens. In the afternoons, we run beer training at Little Creatures Dining Hall and coffee training at The Vertue of the Coffee Drink. Our bar and cocktail training happens at Kelvin in Northcote and Kitty Somerset in Thornbury. We also run training sessions on formal service, resume drop-off and interview practice (at Ladro) and take a tour of The Sofitel on Collins. All of these venues are Scarf sponsors, and hospitality professionals volunteer their time to teach our young trainees the most relevant, up to date stuff.
Wine education is a significant part of our program – we run four sessions which provide a really solid introduction to wine. This is delivered by Jenny ‘The Wine Whitch’ Polack, who has 30 years experience in the wine industry and was the first Australian to undertake the internationally renowned OIV Master of Science in Wine Management. Jenny’s inclusive and adaptable teaching style is a perfect fit for Scarf; taking into account the complexities of working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Jenny has been Scarf’s wine trainer since our 2010 pilot program, and her wine education courses are practical and highly engaging for our diverse group of trainees. Scarf trainees also undertake the Responsible Service of Alcohol course, which is partly funded by SILK Education and Training.
How does the mentoring work?
Scarf mentors are hospitality professionals who volunteer each Tuesday night during Scarf Dinners seasons. Our mentors come from some of Melbourne’s best venues, like Gerald’s Bar, The Lincoln, Bomba, Easy Tiger and Pullman Melbourne. The mentor’s role is to demonstrate, guide and support the trainees as they learn the ropes of front of house restaurant work. By supporting the trainees in their learning and helping them build confidence, the mentors play a key role in increasing the trainees’ job readiness. They are legends! Here’s something one of our ace mentors said:
“Scarf is the perfect environment to get into the hospitality industry; giving so much support and providing real service experience is the best way for anyone to learn, especially young people who have faced barriers in finding work.”
Are the trainees paid?
Yes. We’re proud to pay our trainees the Restaurant Industry Award wage for their work during Scarf Dinners. We’ve been paying our trainees since the start of 2011, as this makes Scarf count as real work experience, which goes a long way on a resume! Here are some words from one case manager who has referred many young people from a refugee background to Scarf:
“I’ve seen young people’s lives transformed through Scarf. Trainees are paid, which is rare and crucial to young people’s confidence. Nightly self-evaluations after each dinner service empower trainees to work towards their employment goals.”
I thought asylum seekers weren’t allowed to work?
It’s true that some asylum seekers’ visas stipulate they cannot engage in paid work. If a young person is referred to Scarf and does not have current work rights, we will still consider them, as they have very limited opportunities for other training programs. We can offer them a volunteer place in the program, whereby they undertake all the Scarf training, as well as gaining valuable work experience and mentoring during Scarf Dinners. When asylum seekers who have engaged in Scarf are later granted work rights, we support them in finding meaningful work.
What happens to the trainees when the program ends?
Towards the end of a Scarf season, trainees are paired with employment mentors who provide support with resume writing, interview skills, and job-seeking. We encourage the trainees to identify which area of hospitality they enjoy the most and can imagine themselves working in. Their employment mentor supports them in applying for jobs – this often involves researching and then meeting in cafés and restaurants and encouraging the trainees to apply in person.
What are the outcomes for the trainees?
Since we began running programs in 2010, we’ve had over 100 young people complete a Scarf program. We’re proud that 70% of Scarf graduates are now in employment, with around two thirds of graduates working in hospitality. Scarf trainees have gone on to great hospitality jobs at the likes of The Plough Hotel, Ladro, Jimmy Watson’s, The Penny Black, The Moor’s Head, No35 at the Sofitel, Peter Rowlands Catering, Mount Zero and Cookie. A somewhat less tangible outcome is the confidence gained by the trainees. It’s probably best to share some quotes from our graduates to illustrate this:
“With everything I learned at Scarf, I feel like I can step into most cafes and restaurants. I have the skills to hit the ground running.”
“I am so glad I was a part of this amazing and practical training program, which enabled me to start a new career in hospitality in Australia. You bring people from different backgrounds together in a nice and friendly environment to gain skills and knowledge to be able to stand on their own.”
How do I get involved?
If you own or manage a restaurant or bar and would like to nominate your venue as a potential partner venue, let us know you’re interested here. And you’re a hospitality star with solid experience and a desire to make a difference to the lives of the young people, you might like to consider joining our team as a mentor. Perhaps you are interested in supporting our trainees through a sponsorship, partnership or by providing a product that we could use during our dinner seasons? We’d love to talk. If you have a specialist skill set which we could integrate into our training program such as cocktail-making or interviewing skills, let us know about it. Or maybe you have other skills we could use, like graphic design, photography or social media expertise? Let us know what you could bring to the table here.
What does Scarf stand for?
Ah, if we had a dollar for every time we’ve been asked this over the years! Scarf, in our case, is not an acronym. We named our organisation after the piece of clothing because a scarf is something that’s warm and comforting and familiar. It can also be an expression of culture or a show of support. And finally, our name relates to a 1950s American slang phrase “to scarf it down” which means to eat voraciously, when time is of the essence.