Compass Trainees_Caitlin Larson_Levi Maddox_Mark Giuliano


The old saying, “It takes a village”, is the best way to describe The Compass Institute’s newest social enterprise venture.

Located in the heart of Maroochydore, the new for-purpose café is a unique collaboration between The Compass Institute, one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest standing disability services, and The Avenue Retirement Village, which is home to 113 resort-style independent living apartments for over 60’s.

Named after Compass’ first social enterprise café in Nambour, Connections Café Maroochydore provides vocational training opportunities for local individuals with disabilities and offers a wide selection of food and drink options, all made in-house, to both residents of The Avenue and the local community.

“Late last year, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a lovely lady asking about whether Compass would be interested in opening a new social enterprise café in Maroochydore,” said Compass Head of Business and Growth, Sandra Brodie.

“Some of the residents at The Avenue had been to our other social enterprise cafés on the Coast and loved what we were about and the experience they’d had with our Trainees, so were advocating for Compass to be the café of choice to operate from their premises. To us, this was a huge compliment, as The Avenue is not their place of business, it’s their home.

“After looking at the space and meeting the team and resident community at The Avenue, we knew this was a very unique opportunity. Beyond the prospect of creating further opportunities for our Trainees for vocational training, was the opportunity to connect an older generation into the magic that young people with disabilities bring, and vice versa, on a day-to-day basis.”

This was something that was also evident to the management team behind The Avenue.

“A well-run café brings a vibrance to a village – it creates a place to meet, a delicious alternative to cooking, as well as a great opportunity to connect with the local community and support local business,” said Aura Holdings CEO, Sean Graham.

Before the new café could become a reality, there was a need for funding to activate the space. And in true Sunshine Coast spirit, the local business community came to the call. Over 130 local business men and women came together at the 2022 Compass Institute Golf Day which is proudly supported by Cricks Sunshine Coast and raised over $50,000 to utilise the opportunity.

The cafe opened quietly in late 2022 and this past Tuesday February 14th on Valentines Day, the team at Connections Café decided it was time to make their mark, share the love and say thank you to the community that bought them to life. The Connections Café team delivered over 113 thank you treats to the residents of the Avenue and over 50 “taster boxes” showcasing their finest sweets to local Maroochydore businesses.

“We believe in the magic of community and now we are proud to be able to share a little of that magic back,” said Sandra.

“And what better time to do that than Valentine’s Day!”

Connections Café Maroochydore is open Monday – Friday, 7:30am – 2:30pm, and is open to both residents of The Avenue Retirement Village and the broader community. The café located on the Ground Floor of The Avenue at 32 Baden Powell St, Maroochydore.