Meaningful employment is a priority for many migrants and humanitarian entrants as the ability to become financially independent leads to positive settlement outcomes and a greater sense of belonging in Australia.

Securing employment not only provides financial security, but also encourages greater social participation, self-esteem, confidence as well as improved mental health and wellbeing.



Although many migrants and humanitarian entrants aspire to obtain employment soon after arrival in Australia, they experience numerous barriers that pose significant challenge. Many people are required to quickly develop skills and knowledge to secure work placements including, a proficiency in English, an understanding of job search requirements, development of professional connections and recognition of prior skills and qualifications.

These challenges are even greater for visa sub-class 204 ‘Women at Risk’ refugees who arrive in Australia as single women, often with a large number of dependent children. They usually have limited education, work experience and literacy but demonstrate a remarkable level of resilience and determination. They are keen to see their children progress with their education; however, tend to put their study on hold to look after young children. It is often only when their youngest child begins school, that they look to enter the workforce and the barriers to gaining employment are realised.

While working with Women at Risk across various programs at Access Community Services, it was noted that irrespective of language, culture and background, one thing that brought women together was the love of cooking and the joy of food. As well as a palpable sense of pride that accompanies the meals they prepare, getting together also provides women with an opportunity for laughter and shared experiences. More often than not, the stories and customs behind the dishes are as fascinating as the flavours. Through the passion that women have to share their food, Access Community Services identified an opportunity to develop a unique social enterprise that would utilise women’s existing skills from their country of origin. It’s these unique skills that have become a foundation for building employment opportunities, training and skills for women seeking to enter the Australian workforce. With a growing market for multicultural food in Australia and a wonderful story to accompany, ‘The Spice Exchange’ was created. The outcomes being an operational social business model in line with our organisational mission and vision, to create opportunities for individuals to become empowered and self-sufficient. The Spice Exchange has partnered with the Harmony on Carmody Café, another social enterprise of Access Community Services, to ensure all ingredients are fresh and sourced locally, with no fillers or preservatives used in the blends. Just pure authentic flavours from around the globe.


The Spice Exchange engages women from diverse cultural backgrounds to create spice blends and condiments reflective of the regions from where they come, to build social connections, to develop confidence and to provide employment opportunities.

The Spice Exchange is both a social enterprise and an employment training pathway program that provides practical skills and workplace experience. It allows women to gain experience in a culturally responsive workplace environment where they can learn employability skills and develop a greater understanding of Australian business practices.


The Spice Exchange Products and Delux Boxes can be purchased either in person at Harmony On Carmody Cafe (cnr Ewing Rd and Carmody St, Woodridge) or through or Purchase Online


Access Community Services Limited is a national leader in the provision of settlement, employment, training, youth, housing and social enterprise services. We pride ourselves upon our ability to deliver dynamic problem-solving programs that are tailored to cater for the needs of clients.

Our mission is to empower individuals and communities in shaping their own future.

Our vision is a cohesive community where individuals are valued, participate economically and experience a high quality of life.