MercyCare’s Wembley Intergenerational Campus was a hive of activity as the community banded together for the annual olive harvest thanks to some generous volunteers.
Some 309 kilograms of olives were harvested, thanks to collaboration with the Benedictine Community of New Norcia whose equipment was used to harvest the olives.
Among the volunteers were MercyCare staff, their families, local residents, and current clients from refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds.
Some of the clients had recently been employed for olive harvest at the New Norcia olive farm.
This employment collaboration is in its third year with a number of refugees and people seeking asylum gaining paid employment.
This provides them with much needed first-time work experience in Australia and helps with gaining long term stable employment.
Among the MercyCare volunteers on the day were several Wembley residents who have lived in the area their whole lives.
They fondly recalled their childhood days of visiting the then orphanage on weekends and observing the olive harvest.
Back in those days, the men would climb the trees and dislodge the olives using a wooden cane with a mat that would catch the olives as they fell to the ground.
The process today has not changed a lot, with the cane replaced by a specialised air rake while the rest of the harvest remains mostly the same.
The olives fell onto shade cloth laid out underneath the trees, swept in to piles and then collected in buckets with dustpans and brushes.
From there, the olives were separated from the debris of leaves and transferred to a truck for transportation.
What the oil will be used for
The olives will continue their life cycle as oil.
A portion of the oil will be used by MercyCare as part of the candle and soap-making workshops which provide a pivotal step towards building enterprise opportunities for refugee women.
Good Habit soap and Good Habit olive oil are sold to raise funds toward directly supporting refugees and people seeking asylum toward gaining meaningful long-term employment.
Hosted by MercyCare’s Multicultural Services team, the Good Habit brand of soaps and olive oil have been developed over the past few years as part of several small-scale experiments in an effort to help build livelihoods among refugees as well as develop new skills to help start their own enterprises.