Safeguarding the future conference - Canberra, 23-24 May 2024

Resources for Customised Employment

Welcome to our Customised Employment resource page, a comprehensive guide designed for families navigating the journey toward meaningful employment for people with disability. 

Customised Employment is a tailored approach that focuses on each individual’s strengths, interests, and abilities rather than fitting them into a pre-existing job.

Each phase of Customised Employment plays a pivotal role in creating a successful employment journey. It starts with developing a comprehensive understanding of the individual (Discovery), followed by planning for customised employment. It involves negotiating with employers to create customised roles that incorporate valued and suitable tasks for the person. The final phase focuses on fostering a supportive work environment, a crucial step to long-term success and job satisfaction.

Our resources are designed to empower you with the knowledge and tools needed to create and sustain meaningful and valued work roles.

Many of the following resources have been developed by Imagine More based on the teachings of Marc Gold & Associates.

Resource categories

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Customised employment in action

See how families from Canberra and across the country have implemented Customised Employment. These stories are both educational and inspirational and remind us of why it’s so important to help people with disability find valued, enduring employment.

Employment success stories

Let’s Get to Work – The Administrative Assistant

Young man at work with workplace mentor

When this video was recorded, Jack was a year 12 student at the local Catholic college. He was doing a School-Based Apprenticeship as an Office Admin Assistant. With the support of his family, Jack self-managed SLES (School Leavers Employment Support) funding through the NDIS. This enabled him to directly employ his job coach.

Jack has a Circle of Support that has been instrumental in helping him to realise his goals. An important goal at the time was finding meaningful work while still at school, just like his friends.

Watch Jack’s employment story (6 mins)

Let’s Get to Work: The Research Technician

Video thumbnail showing a young research technician working alongside his workplace champion in the lab

It’s been a busy time for 19-year-old Gus since finishing his Year 12 Certificate in 2018. In March 2019, he started working at the CSIRO as a Research Technician. It’s an important role that involves maintaining stocks of sterile glassware for use by research scientists and other tasks critical to the compliance and safe operations of the lab. He works five mornings a week and is paid award wages.

When this video was recorded, Gus was supported by a team of carefully selected Mentors who helped him work towards his goal of moving into his own home. Gus has been an NDIS participant since 2015.

Watch Gus’s employment story (4 minutes)

Daisy’s School-to-work journey

Portrait of Daisy BrownDaisy and her mother, Gillian, explain how Daisy has used her high school years to explore employment and create a seamless transition from year 12 to working life in a job that is a great fit for Daisy.

This presentation was recorded at the 2023 Opening Opportunities conference. At the time, 16-year-old Daisy was in year 12 at Charters Towers School of Distance Education when she presented at our Opening Opportunities conference. She combined schooling (QCE) with a Cert II in animal studies at Central Queensland University via the Start TAFE Now programme. She loves rap music and reformer pilates.

Daisy has a lifelong interest in animals, particularly horses and dogs. She established her career by undertaking a work experience placement in a vet clinic. Her teammates valued her skills in asking questions, using her initiative and monitoring dogs in surgical recovery. As a result, Daisy was offered an ongoing job at the vet and now works 17 hours a week. Her tasks at work include bathing dogs in the hydro bath and providing laser treatment, pre-and post-operative care, and general animal care.

Watch Daisy’s employment story here (39 minutes)

Will at work

Portrait of Will CoventryWill graduated from school in 2016. Since leaving school, Will has worked part-time as an administrative assistant in three businesses in Brisbane’s CBD. He also volunteers at Meals on Wheels one day a week.

Will’s mother, Anna, self-manages his NDIS plan and is involved in Will’s Circle of Support. The circle consists of significant people in Will’s life who support him in fulfilling his vision of living a good life, including work, contributing to his community, and planning to live in a home of his own.

Watch Will’s employment story here (30 minutes)

The Intern

Portrait of Carl Emmerson, who will be speaking at Imagine More's August 2016 ConferenceCarl became involved in a student radio program when he was in Year 11, which led him to volunteer at the station. This became an internship. Carl used some of his NDIS funding to get the support he needed as he was settling into the new work environment. He engaged Jenni, a radio trainer who already worked at the station, to teach him media and radio skills and to help him understand the media industry.

During his internship, Carl did community announcements, production work, and script writing, among other tasks. His experience showed that a little paid support went a long way to making his transition into the workplace a smooth one.


Watch Carl’s employment story (6 minutes)

Ruth’s story

Portrait of Ruth Faragher who will be presenting at Imagine More's August 2016 ConferenceIn this short video, Ruth shares the employment journey that led to a part-time hospitality role while she was still at school. She explains what steps she took in preparing for job interviews and how she felt when she started working in the kitchen at a local cafe. Ruth describes the tasks she does at work and some of the things she’s learned about working in a commercial kitchen.

Next, her employer explains how she values Ruth’s role in the cafe, including her skills and the enthusiasm she brings to the workplace.

Watch Ruth’s employment story (4 minutes)

Developing roles that align with Jessie’s interests and contributions

Portrait of Jessie WardJessie is a young Canberran who finished Year 12 in 2021, having completed a Business Apprenticeship in a primary school front office. She worked in Outside School Hours Care the first year after school. She is now studying to be an Early Childhood Educator and is working at a Childcare Centre. She also does paid Advocacy work and, in 2022, helped to design and hold a national Summit for Young People with Disabilities.

Jessie’s work life has been greatly enhanced by what she learned through the Discovery Process and using a Customised Employment approach.

Watch Jessie’s employment story (42 minutes)

Our Discovery journey with Milly

A young woman at her sewing machine working on a projectMilly was in the process of transitioning from school to work and exploring options for further study and employment when she gave this presentation. In it, she describes her informal discovery process and how she learned about her interests and opportunities through work experiences and extracurricular activities.

Milly, her Mum, and one of her supporters explain how they set up work experience in office administration as well as a microenterprise. Both opportunities have allowed Milly to discover more about what she enjoys doing and what elements of a workplace’s environment allow her to thrive.

Watch Milly’s employment story (62 minutes)

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Microenterprise success stories

Let’s Get to Work: Pa’s Produce

Thumbnail of Let's Get to Work: Pa's Produce video Annie had lined up some work in a local business that would be her first post-school employment – and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This really shook Annie’s confidence, so Annie and her family started planning a new pathway. They hadn’t planned to start a business, but they saw it as an opportunity for Annie to explore small retail and learn employable skills.

Annie and her parents purchased a chestnut roasting van and sold delicious roasted chestnuts – sourced from their grandparents’ farm – at a local market on the weekends. During the week, Annie prepared the nuts and learned and practised business skills such as money handling. Pa’s Produce, named in honour of Annie’s beloved late grandpa, is a seasonal business that operates with Annie at the helm, supported by unpaid family members and a well-chosen paid mentor.

Pa’s produce is a story that highlights the power of planning and having the courage to take steps even when everything feels overwhelming.


Watch Annie’s microenterprise story (6 minutes)

Let’s Get to Work: Zellner Services

Two young men holding slides in front of a desk covered in computers and other equipment. The title is "Let's get to work: Zellner Services".Cameron Zellner, his family, and Circle of Support were keen to ensure Cameron’s life after school included valued and meaningful employment. They did a thorough Discovery process to determine which of Cameron’s many skills and interests were most likely to lead to employment. This resulted in the establishment of his micro business, Zellner Services, which specialises in scanning 35mm slides, photos and other documents. He also crosscut-shreds unwanted papers, discs and credit cards to confidential standards.

In this short video, you’ll hear from Cameron, his mother, his support coordinator, and one of his mentors. They explain the thinking and process that led to Cameron’s exploration of employment over a number of years and how this investment of effort has been so successful.

Cam Can

Marc and Anthony Lema

When he finished school, employment of any sort seemed completely out of reach for Cameron. He was identified as needing significant 2:1 support needs, and seemed destined for a life of sitting around, waiting for things to happen.

Then his parents realised that Cameron had become very good at waiting – and that this might be the kernel of a successful small business model.

Cam Can Services provides a personal waiting service for busy people who can’t afford to wait for deliveries, installations and tradesmen. The business also offers a suite of small jobs that can be done while Cameron waits, all for a reasonable cost. Cam Can Services is a viable business that provides Cameron with a meaningful occupation and many other benefits.

Watch Cameron’s microenterprise story (43 minutes)

Creating a microenterprise to explore Sethmi’s interests

Portrait of Sethmi LekamarachchiErosha will share how her family created a micro-enterprise for her daughter Sethmi – a year nine student – based on subtle interests they noticed during the Discovery process.

Watch Sethmi’s Microenterprise story (31 minutes)

How Customised Employment allowed Ryan to surpass everyone’s expectations

Portrait of Ryan and Corinna GilliganCorinna Gilligan explains how creative thinking and exploration of Customised Employment enabled her son Ryan to surpass everyone’s expectations.

Watch Ryan’s microenterprise story (39 minutes)

From school to international fashion model

Portrait of Tia SemiTia’s journey began with a desire to ensure her post-school life was not dominated by screens and solitude. She had an interest in fashion, design, and modelling. Her team explored this interest with her and tested creative methods of designing that didn’t involve sketching or drawing. As a result of this process, Tia has created her successful fashion label, Funk N Soul 97, and has become a runway model.

Watch Tia’s microenterprise story (36 minutes)

Creating a good life through meaningful employment

Portrait of Tom NealeWhen Tom was preparing to leave school, and no one was offering any suitable post-school work options, his parents knew they had to come up with the answer. Skip forward five years, and Tom is happily and successfully running his own lawn maintenance business with approximately 50 regular clients.

Watch Tom’s microenterprise story (27 minutes)

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Discovering interests, skills, and conditions for success:

Co-creating employment with Discovery

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Planning for Job Development

Discovering unfamiliar workplaces

  • [Imagine More] Informational interview two-page explainer (In development)
  • [Imagine More] Understanding tasks two-page explainer (In development)
  • [My future website]
  • [Griffin Hammis] Informational Interviews

Identifying business contacts:

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Customised Job Development

Preparing for customised job development

Initiating contact with employers:

  • [Imagine More] Letter sample (In development)
  • [Imagine More] Speaking notes sample and two-page explainer (In development)

Engaging with employers and customising roles

Explaining Customised Employment to employers:

Talking about the person to employers with a Visual Resume:

Understanding employer’s needs and identifying tasks

Negotiating job descriptions

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Systematic Instruction


Setting up for success before the person starts

Systematic Instruction in action

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Getting support

Finding and hiring your own job coach

  • [Imagine More] Guide – where to find, what to look for (In development)
  • [Imagine More] Advert sample (In development)
  • [Imagine More] Interview questions sample (In development)

Training your own job coach

  • [Imagine More] A two-page explainer guide to complement the induction package (In development)
  • [Imagine More] Troubleshooting with your job coach (In development)

Finding a service provider

  • [Imagine More] Questions to ask guide (In development)

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  • [Imagine More] Understanding the similarities and differences of discovery application to micro vs employment (In development)

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Career development stages for students

This section offers resources tailored to specific stages of employment, particularly relevant to individuals at different points in their life journey. Whether it’s exploring work experience options during secondary school or understanding broader employment aspects, these resources are designed to align with individuals’ unique needs and life stages.

Work experience

School to work for secondary school students

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