Parliament on King

Olivia Watson
19th Sep 2016

"Our purpose is to welcome refugees, asylum seekers and recent arrivals to Australia and provide them with the opportunity to participate, equally and as friends, in the social, economic and cultural life of their new Australian home" 

Parliament on King is not just your average cafe. It is a heartwarming little centre of hope, love and social responsibility. Enter the unassuming shopfront nestled into a small space (literally the ground floor of the owners' home) down the south end of King Street, and you will be welcomed into a cafe that provides more for the world than just coffee. 

It is a venue where asylum seekers and refugees are employed and trained in the basics of hospitality. In a time of displacement, uncertainty and overwhelming barriers, here is a place where people are welcomed, valued and invited to feel part of a community. It is a place to feel safe.

Staff are paid above award wages and there is no discrimination based on uncertainty of future living circumstances. They cook food from their home countries, like they would for their family - the difference at Parliament on King is the quantities are larger, and the training involves learning strategies for enabling efficient large scale catering without sacrificing the integrity of the meal.

That doesn't mean corners are cut, however. For example, even when producing quantities for a big catering job, coconut milk is ground by hand on a "bush engineering" style hand grinder the team have made out the back.

Parliament on King is run as a social enterprise, with proceeds from all its avenues being used to fund the refugee and asylum seekers projects and training they undertake.

The cafe's standard menu is simple - good coffee, teas (served in gorgeous decorated pots), sandwiches and toasties. The real magic happens at their events, such as the monthly Local Family Dinners that centre around a theme and see customers treated to a tasty two course meal of food from the homeland of some of the staff. 

On other days, you might get lucky and find the cafe serving a daily special, in association with the catering work they're also preparing.

Pop in at night too, they're licensed and hold popular weekly life drawing sessions. Or cozy up on one of the couches on a quiet night and enjoy some downtime on the peaceful end of King Street.

Parliament on King's biggest undertaking at the moment is their Social Catering business - taking off this year it has already had some major projects and the majority of clients have come back for repeat order.

They'll do events big or small, from birthday parties to major conferences, serving up local favourites from the staff's home countries such as Burmese Red Pepper Noodles, Persian rice, Cantonese egg tarts, Somali soups and Srilankan curries, with "everything lovingly made and the way they make it at home".

Parliament on King is at 632 King Street, Erskineville.
Follow them on Facebook to hear about upcoming Local Family Dinners, life drawing, concerts and other events.
More information about Social Catering is available on their website.

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632 King Street
+61 414 235 325

Tue – Wed midday – 7pm
Thu midday – 9pm
Fri midday – 7pm
Sat – Sun 10am – 7pm