Cafe Sunshine helping asylum seekers find work in Australia

Adan Salas, Hamed Allahyari, Amir Makvandi, Jen Morillas, Sam Yosefnejad and Yusupha Ngum. (Luke Hemer)

By Laura Michell

A cafe dedicated to employing refugees and asylum seekers has opened in Sunshine.

Cafe Sunshine has partnered with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to give jobs to new arrivals who are struggling to get their first job in Australia.

Co-founders Jen Morillas and Hamed Allahyari decided to open the cafe after volunteering with the ASRC.

Mr Allahyari, who owned his own restaurant in Iran, was the kitchen manager and volunteer co-ordinator at ASRC and dreamt of opening his own place in Melbourne, while Ms Morillas was part of the centre’s kitchen team.

Ms Morillas said the Dickson Street cafe opened with the help of the state government’s Pick My Project grant last year.

“Our goal from the get-go has been to employ ASRC members,” she said.

“We currently have four front of house staff who are working next to qualified mentors. We also have Hamed and three staff from the ASRC working in the kitchen.

“We aim to have the place 100 per cent run by refugees and asylum seekers as soon as we can.”

Ms Morillas said the Sunshine community had been incredibly supportive.

“We believe that partnerships such as ours are vital in the community,” she said.

“The ASRC helps us by providing us with enthusiastic and dedicated staff, and we in turn are able to promote the ASRC’s work through our cafe.”