Work First: A recognition of employment as a pathway to the social and economic inclusion of persons with a disability

Work First recognises the role that employment plays in creating inclusion and participation for a person with a disability in society. Employment is a recognised pathway to citizenship and is part of the conversation that we all have. Consider for a minute that most encounters with strangers almost always follow the question about your name with what do you do for a living. For a person with a disability, unemployment creates the setting for exclusion and a less valued role in society. Work First is about changing the narrative and shifting the conversation in systems that were primarily established to support welfare to ones that promote and support employment as a universal right. Employment is the norm and should be so for every member of society that so chooses that pathway.

Organisational Change

The current disability employment paradigm is changing under the influence of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Australian Disability Entreprises (ADE's) and NGO's face unprecedented forces for change that present as both an opportunity and a challenge.

Overseas experience has taught us that those organisations that grasp the challenge shape their own destiny, whilst those that wait for change will invariably languish or fail.

The NDIS is creating an opportunity for organisations to develop employment pathways for clients that provide the hope and promise of a real job in the community working for real wages that leads to real inclusion, cohesion and integration into the community. In short the opportunity for organisations to fullfil their original promise!

Equally, the DES sector is looking at the same challenge.  We have the knowledge and expertise to assist your organisation to take charge of its future.


Our Organisational Change program is delivered as part of a more complex support arrangement. Phone to enquire

Customised Employment As a Pathway to Open Employment and Self Employment (Micro-Entreprise)

We provide training and support utilising Customised Employment methods to assist individuals and organisations pursue employment options for people with a disability or other significant barrier to achieving employment. Utilising our world wide network and our own research, we can assist you to develop evidence based practices for yourself within the NDIS framework, DES setting or for any organisation that wishes to utilised the evidence based practices of customised employment to assist your clients achieve open or self employment outcomes.

We are supported in the delivery of global best practice training in this field by our technical partners: Griffin Hammis Associates, Inc., the world leaders in the field of Customised Employment.


Visit our Events page for details on individual professional, participant, family and self advocate training events.

Organisational CE training program is delivered as part of a more complex support arrangement. Phone to enquire.

Social Entreprise: An ethical & commercially responsible way for supporting the social and economic inclusion of people with a disability

Workplace participation for people with ID is a major policy issue, with both economic and social imperatives.

This project was established to investigate how a Social Entreprise Framework could be used as a mechanism to transition disability focused entreprises (Australian Disability Entreprises) into open employment settings that secure meaningful, rewarding, and sustainable employment for people with ID.

The outcomes of this research are now available as a consultancy and training package for interested organisations.

Part One of this research is available in a peer reviewed journal article that can be found by clicking on the link in our publications page.  

Minimum Training Standards for Customised Employment

The recognised minimum standard for training in Customised Employment is 40 Hours of intensive training that will provide underpinning knowledge to build expertise and practice around. This requires ongoing mentoring and field support over twelve months to really understand the process. Additional training is also required in areas such as Systematic Training and Benefits Counselling. Our training provides a comprehensive suite of knowledge, resources and mentoring to ensure that individual and staff are properly supported on their journey.  Training can also support individuals and families on their own journey of Discovery, whether self lead or in a group setting within the NDIS paradigm.


THe Origins Of Discovery and Why It Isn't a Quick Fix.

Lou Brown and his colleagues (1986) at the University of Wisconsin developed a narrative format known as an inventory strategy for characterising student performance and characteristics. It targeted discrepancies between student performance, their current and subsequent environments as goals for Individual Education Plans (IEP's) in education. The process became known as the Ecological Inventory Strategy.

In 1986, Nesbit (colleague of Brown) and Mike Callahan used the concept to create a Vocational Profile Strategy at Syracuse University. Following on from this Mike Callahan and United Cerebral Palsy Associations (UCPA) conducted a series of demonstrations of the VPS. Between 1987 and 2000 a variety of Vocational Profile and Person Centred Career Planning concepts started to evolve. Victoria Commonwealth University (VCU) adopted the processes espoused by Griffin and Hammis in their Vocational Profile and Person Centred Career Planning manual (1996).


By 1998, the term “Discovery” was adopted by Mike Callahan at Marc Gold and Associates (MGA) as an alternative to Profile Strategy. Griffin Hammis Associates (GHA) developed the term “Discovering Personal Genius” (DPG) as the descriptor for their method of Discovery that focused on finding the evidence to support the emerging vocational themes as a guide to informational interviews which GHA had been conducting.


" Our particular approach to Discovery is DPG and that evolved out of what we saw didn't work with various models of Person Centred Planning...mostly what I saw was this thing we now call Voc Themes...once I had that and could articulate it a bit the process fell into place...we'd been using info interviews and tweaking those from tours to real conversations for a while and saw how engaged many employers were.... and so on with refinements that continue…”


Cary Griffin  (2017)