Society Melbourne – ANZ & The University of Melbourne

Ralph, 20, was just 16 when he arrived in Australia as a Filipino-Spanish migrant. After experiencing long periods of unemployment and financial instability, he eventually found himself homeless.

It was thanks to an opportunity with social enterprise Society Melbourne that Ralph’s life has changed completely.

Established in 2014, Society Melbourne runs a group of café and coffee outlets, and provides a Hospitality Training Program to support young people who have experienced or are at-risk of homelessness gain valuable employability skills, and pave their own pathway out of the homelessness cycle.

100% of the profits from the four subsidiary social enterprises – Crêpes for Change, The Coffee Cart, and home.two – are committed to the life-changing traineeship program.

“When I first arrived in Australia, I found it very challenging. I didn’t know anything,” said Ralph.

“Through Society Melbourne not only was I able to develop my skills, but I met new people along the way, and it was also a huge help financially.

“Since graduating from their program, I have secured part-time work at General Pants Co. between my time studying a Diploma of Community Services.

“I am also doing a student placement with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which could lead to a potential internship within the organisation. I never thought I would be in this position.”

Home.two, Society Melbourne’s latest social enterprise cafe, was launched in 2019 and is the result of a collaborative approach between ANZ, The University of Melbourne and Breathe Architecture.

ANZ contributed 100% of the money raised from its annual Kaleidoscope Charity Art Auction, to fund the fit-out of home.two which was built and designed by Breathe Architecture from recycled shipping containers, on land provided by The University of Melbourne (Parkville campus).

Society Melbourne’s Co-Founder and Managing Director Tenille Gilbert said the partnership demonstrates the power of collaboration in shaping positive social procurement outcomes.

“A measure of our success is the number of individuals moving onto placement with our employment partners. Our programs are intended to be a pathway solution for young people to find sustainable employment,” Tenille said.

“It really important we acknowledge that each young person is different. We tailor our solution to each individual to fit the pathway that best suits them.

“Since opening our doors, home.two has generated $217,000 in revenue for vital impact funding. So far, seven trainees have gained employable customer service and technical skills and hundreds of hours of on-the-job training, funded through home.two’s operations.

“More broadly, 100% of young people who have graduated from Society Melbourne training programs (three modules) have gone onto further education or employment. And for those who haven’t completed all three modules, at least 70% have also gone onto further education and training.

“The Social Traders network was integral to connecting Society Melbourne with its supporting partners and home.two has been a glowing example of the power of partnerships in affecting real societal change.”

According to ANZ’s Head of Housing Strategy Caryn Kakas, as a large organisation with an extensive supply chain, ANZ recognise their procurement activities have social and environmental impacts.

“ANZ supports charities and social enterprises that align with its purpose and the societal issues it has chosen to focus on,” Caryn said.

“When financial institutions are able to partner with the private sector and community, we have the best chance of collectively changing things for the better.”