May 2022

Mater Dei Fresh Food provides a hands-on learning experience

A fully functioning mini Woolworths store at Mater Dei School aims to mimic the operations of a supermarket with baskets for fresh food, signage, shelves for groceries, uniforms and registers, writes Brad Moller.

Launched the support of Woolworths and Fujitsu in March this year, Mater Dei Fresh Food is supporting the education of students and young adults with an intellectual disability or developmental delay with hands-on learning experiences.

At check out, grocery items are scanned using fully operational Fujitsu registers and include the experience of money handling, store receipts and the bagging of items. Students wear Woolworths branded uniforms to create a fully immersive experience.

It is the first such store in South Western Sydney, and the first of its kind within a Good Samaritan Education (GSE) school.

Mater Dei Camden works with children and young adults with complex learning needs to provide innovative and contemporary education and therapy services. Mater Dei Fresh Food, as the students have named their new mini Woolworths store, was brought to life over the summer school holidays through a partnership with Woolworths and Fujitsu.

Woolworths team members helped students to stock shelves and provided register training to ensure the seamless integration of the store into Mater Dei’s educational practices.

Image: Photograph Dallas Kilponen/Woolworths

Uniquely, Mater Dei Fresh Food will be utilised by both Mater Dei School (K-12) and the young adults of Mater Dei’s NextPath Continuous Learning program. The NextPath Continuous Learning program was established to enable and empower young adults with an intellectual disability to engage in a process of self-determination to develop educational and life skills.

Mater Dei CEO/Principal Mark Raue said the Mater Dei Fresh Food store would provide immeasurable benefits to Mater Dei, “not just for our students and Young Adults, but also for our teachers, families, carers, supporters and our wider community, especially as we continue to emerge from the devastating floods through Camden”.

“This is a tremendous initiative that allows us to continue our mission of providing contemporary research and evidence-based educational experiences for our students and young adults, in ways that will enable them to be fully participating members of their respective communities.

“We are honoured and humbled by the support of Woolworths and Fujitsu in bringing this initiative to life for us, and are excited for the opportunities it will bring our students, their families and the wider Macarthur community.”

John Hunt is Woolworths Group Chief Information Officer and Director of Group Enablement. “We are really proud of our new mini supermarket at Mater Dei and the opportunities it will create for students,” he said.

“This is a great example of our commitment to create better experiences together for a better tomorrow. The skills students will learn in their new mini Woolworths supermarket will equip them with confidence and knowledge of retail operations in an exciting way, giving them an upfront understanding and familiarity when they enter the workforce.

“Having seen the success of our previous mini Woolworths stores with students employed as Woolworths team members, we look forward to seeing how the students gain independence and the skills from Mater Dei Fresh Food.”

Head of Industry & Retail, Fujitsu Australia Limited Clare Burden said Fujitsu was excited to partner with Woolworths on this initiative. “We are incredibly proud of the impact our technology and support is making on young lives as well as their parents and educators,” she said.

Image: Photograph Dallas Kilponen/Woolworths

Since its launch, Mater Dei Fresh Food has proved a hit with the students and young adults of Mater Dei School and NextPath Continuous Learning, with store-based educational activities becoming a daily occurrence across a range of different programs.

While students enjoy the interactivity and operational understanding the store brings, Mater Dei educators and Goal Facilitators continue to develop new and innovative ways to integrate Mater Dei Fresh Food into their learning programs.

At launch, Mater Dei Fresh Food was the sixth mini supermarket of its kind created for schools by Woolworths and Fujitsu, with plans in place to roll out more stores in similar settings.

The initiative has already proved a tremendous success not only for Woolworths and Fujitsu, but also for students, their families, and communities in which they serve. Mater Dei continues to work closely with Woolworths, particularly across the Macarthur region, to identify new opportunities of the benefit for students and their families.

Mater Dei would like to acknowledge Woolworths and Fujitsu for their dedication and continued support for this initiative, and for the significant role each has played in bringing Mater Dei Fresh Food to life for the students and young adults of Mater Dei.



Brad Moller

Brad Moller is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Mater Dei. Mater Dei provides education and therapy services to babies, children and young adults with an intellectual disability or developmental delay.

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