Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative (NCEC) provides meaningful employment and training opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues.
It delivers a range of services to businesses, government and the community, including
- catering through Espresso Train Café & Catering based on Station Street in Nundah
- the maintenance of 30 parks and open spaces across northeast Brisbane.
The Co-operative began as a group of people with cognitive disabilities who were long term unemployed and had been through an endless cycle of job agency placements. Most had completed multiple training courses and had certificates in multiple industries. Some had developed significant mental health issues and addictions in their time of forced idleness.
Local organisations in Nundah – including Community Living Association and Foresters’ Community Finance – took the uncommon step of investing time, energy and resources to help this group take ownership of the problem. They invited members to meet and discuss their common challenge, helped them develop a shared understanding, and encouraged them to take small steps of action.
While the Co-operative began as a humble ‘jobs club’, NCEC now employs over 20 members in a range of part time roles and generates over 5000 hours of work each year.
“Nundah Co-op is about people working together. It makes me happy to be part of it and mix with my friends. It’s the best organisation I’ve ever been in.” Ali (constituent)
“It gives people with an intellectual disability a job and helps with extra income. I get to learn different things.” Ian (constituent)
“The Co-op manages two successful businesses turning over almost half a million dollars a year. Twenty members with a disability have secured work through the cooperative, they collectively control the organisation and more than 80% of their income is derived from trade. What’s their secret? There are no easy answers, but ownership may be a key. Helping people to own a problem and to secure the means with which to address it, can unlock their creativity, drive and entrepreneurship. To achieve this we need to think about our social investments and enterprise building in a radically different way.” Richard (staff member and NCEC Coordinator)
In 2016, five Social Science Students from the University of Queensland did a research report on The Lived Experiences of Nundah Community Enterprise Cooperative Members . This study focuses on the factors that facilitate meaningful work opportunities for people with a disability or mental illness at the NCEC.