Friday, 3 March 2023: Woolworths has returned to the very first Mini Woolies site - Eddie’s Fresh Food - at St Edmund’s College as it celebrates the program’s fifth anniversary.
Launched in 2018, the Mini Woolies program was created to provide hands-on learning experiences for young Australians with disabilities in a safe and comfortable learning environment. Each store is set up to simulate the operations of an actual Woolworths supermarket, with baskets for fresh food, shelving for groceries, Woolworths branded uniforms and even fully operational Fujitsu registers.
Over the last five years, the Mini Woolies program has expanded across the country to more than 30 sites in six states and territories. Team members from Woolworths and Fujitsu returned to the school today to hear from the students, staff and alumni about how they have been using Eddie’s Fresh Food store as part of their everyday learning activities.
For some students, this even includes a subject offering the VET Retail Services course, a nationally recognised qualification that helps develop essential skills and knowledge for a career in retail.
Patrick Misciagna, Woolworths Group Technology Director - Service Operations and Infrastructure, said: “The Mini Woolies program has been a truly rewarding experience for us at Woolworths. Working with specialist schools and inclusive recruitment centres such as Omnia to support the incredible work they are already doing each day for young Australians with disabilities has been a privilege.
“As we mark the fifth anniversary, we would like to congratulate all of the students and participants on the incredible effort and creativity they have brought to the Mini Woolies programs over the years, and we’re excited to say there’s more to come.”
St Edmund’s College is a co-educational high school catering for 125 students with a wide range of disabilities including sensory impairment, intellectual disability, and autism. The College has provided special education for over 70 years.
Michael Farrell, Principal at St Edmund’s College, said: “It is hard to believe it has been five years since the inaugural Mini Woolies opened at St Edmund’s College. An initial idea has quickly led to an authentic, immersive learning tool for our students and valued long-term relationships between Woolworths, Fujitsu and St Edmund’s College.
“Our students have gained so much from the implementation and use of Mini Woolies. Literacy, numeracy, communications, problem-solving and retail skills are consistently developed in a low-stress, authentic shopping environment. It is clear the competencies and confidence developed through the program have led to transferrable skills that are able to be applied in a range of employment settings post-school.”
Clare Burden, Head of Industry Retail at Fujitsu Australia Limited said: “Fujitsu is excited to partner with Woolworths on the Mini Woolies initiative. We are incredibly proud of the impact our technology and support is making on young lives as well as their parents and educators.”
In 2022, Mini Woolies also began collaborating with inclusive recruitment centre Omnia Inclusive, who support young job seekers with disabilities. Seven sites have now been launched at these recruitment centres as a resource for participants to practise retail skills for work placement and employment outcomes.