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

Registrations close at 5:00 pm AEST on Thursday, 16 May

Creating a good life through meaningful employment

The story of a young man's microenterprise, Ground Control by Major Tom. This presentation was recorded during our 2021 virtual conference, Get That Good Life!

The story behind Ground Control by Major Tom

When 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 5 years, and Tom is happily and successfully running his own lawn maintenance business with approximately 50 regular clients.

Ground Control by Major Tom came into being because his family

  • chose to focus on Tom’s interests and skills, and
  • had a goal that Tom would have a valued role in the community.

Tom’s Circle of Support, which was established at the same time as his business, still meets regularly. The Circle’s roles are

  • to support Tom in his decision making
  • to provide new social and recreational opportunities
  • and to hold and protect his vision of a good life.

Helen, Tom’s mum, will describe the pathway from its beginnings, where she dreamed of a Microenterprise for Tom, to today, where the dream is a reality. In her presentation, Helen will

  • discuss their use of formal (paid) and informal supports
  • share strategies for sustainability, business growth, skill development and independence
  • provide tips on “thinking typical”.

Outside-the-box-thinkers will appreciate the ideas, tactics, and strategies that abound in Tom’s story.

Meet the speakers

Tom Neale – Owner of Ground Control by Major TomPortrait of Tom Neale

Tom is nearly 24, a hard worker who has had his microenterprise “Ground Control by Major Tom” for almost five years. He is a good friend to many and loves to help out where he can, whether raising funds and awareness for the homeless or being a good neighbour.

Tom has a vision for a good and typical life- he loves to travel, go to the pub, hang out with friends, and one day wants a modern house of his own. Tom has Autism, but this doesn’t define him.

Helen Neale – Community Living Project, SAPortrait of Helen Neale

Helen is Tom’s mum as well as his current social secretary! She has always had high expectations for Tom and hasn’t let the narrow mindedness of others change his life trajectory.

Helen now works for Community Living Project in South Australia, an organisation driven by strong values. In this role, she shares information about microenterprise as a career option for people with disability.