A two-day conference exploring the life-changing power of customised employment for people with disability
Thank you to everyone who attended the Opening Opportunities conference in May 2023. It was a brilliant two days of presentations and conversation about Customised Employment.
You can now watch the sessions for free in our online resource library.
Employment for people with disability
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2019, working-age people with disability had a lower employment rate (48% or 984,000) than those without disability (80% or 11.3 million). Working-age people with severe or profound disability had a much lower employment rate (24% or 120,000) than those with other disability (56% or 863,000) (ABS 2019). From the same report, people with sensory and speech disability had the highest employment rate (50% or 205,000), while those with psychosocial disability had the lowest (26% or 165,000) (ABS 2019).
These figures are supported by data released by the NDIS in its analysis of Employment outcomes for NDIS participants as of 31 December 2020.
It’s an unpleasant and confronting fact that if adults with intellectual disability and autism work at all, they are most likely to work in low-paid, part-time jobs, which are often insecure and offer no opportunity for growth. And they’ll most likely work exclusively alongside other people with disability in roles that don’t necessarily hold their interest or match their skills.
Family members of people with disability often share the same pervasive worries:
- Will my family member ever find a paying job that holds their interest or sticks longer than a few months?
- Will I need to give up work or reduce my working hours to care for my unemployed family member?
- Will I need to change my retirement plans?
- Will a life of unemployment commit my family member to a life of isolation without relationships or ties to their community?
- Will my family member ever be able to live independently if they’re always unemployed or underemployed?
Despite these commonly-held fears, many families still pursue meaningful employment that suits their family members.
Employment is an essential element of the Good Life
Having a good job or career provides financial security, independence, the opportunity to meet people and form relationships, opportunities to contribute, and funds to pay rent, buy a home, travel, eat out, pursue hobbies, and partake in all the great things life has to offer.
If you dream of a workplace where your family member
- can thrive as the work aligns with their interests
- are appreciated for their unique contributions
- have good workplace relationships
- can grow their skills
- has sustainable paid work,
then we think you are going to love this conference. It’s all about
Opening Opportunities was a two-day national conference focused on uncovering employment opportunities for people with disability. The conference featured speakers including families, young people with disability, and professionals from Australia and overseas who have opened opportunities using an approach called Customised Employment.
Customised Employment is a tried and true method when implemented with integrity, and it has been used locally and internationally. At this conference, we saw abundant evidence that it’s an approach that works. Our speakers shared their lived experiences of customising employment and provided practical tips that could be implemented immediately.
Why you should watch the Opening Opportunities Conference recordings
By watching the conference recordings, you’ll become part of a supportive tribe of changemakers who share your values, are walking the same path, who can see people’s potential and believe in creating a better employment future.
By watching the conference presentations, you’ll come away with
- the realisation that there’s an abundance of employment opportunities waiting to be discovered
- a greater understanding of how to map out a customised employment pathway
- various ways to create employment opportunities
- ways to navigate stigma about disability
- insights into how to identify a person’s interests in a way that leads to employment
- networking opportunities and ways to connect with other people after the conference.
These presentations are perfect if you’re
- Overwhelmed (or underwhelmed!) by the limiting post-school options for students with disability
- Feeling stuck and worried that your family member might never be able to work
- Feeling disheartened by the limiting beliefs of others about your family member’s ability to be meaningfully employed
- A family member, a mentor or paid supporter, a professional, a prospective employer, or someone who wants everyone to be meaningfully and sustainably employed.
Who presented at the Opening Opportunities conference?
Executive Director of Imagine MoreJan Kruger. Learn more
Jannette Kaye Phillips
Welcome to CountryJannette Kaye Phillips. Learn more
Living the dream and creating a life full of possibilityNathan Basha. Learn more
Dr Jenny Crosbie PhD
Customised Employment in AustraliaDr Jenny Crosbie PhD. Learn more
Four sessions about Customised EmploymentMilton Tyree. Learn more
Our Discovery journey with MillyMilly Whitehead. Learn more
Our Discovery journey with MillySimone Whitehead. Learn more
Our Discovery journey with MillyRos Kewley. Learn more
Developing roles that align with Jessie's interests and contributionsJessie Ward. Learn more
Developing roles that align with Jessie's interests and contributionsGenna Ward. Learn more
Developing roles that align with Jessie's interests and contributionsCassandra Morrow. Learn more
Creating pathways to employmentMary Hawkins. Learn more
Daisy's School-to-Work JourneyDaisy Brown. Learn more
Daisy's School-to-Work JourneyGillian Brown. Learn more
School to Work Project Coordinator at Imagine MoreFiona McIntosh. Learn more
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance SchemeThe Hon Bill Shorten MP. Learn more
Acknowledgement of CountryCameron Zellner. Learn more
Will at workWill Coventry. Learn more
Will at workAnna Coventry. Learn more
Supporting the workplace to support the employeeJack Kruger. Learn more
Supporting the workplace to support the employeeJulia Shumaker. Learn more
Supporting the workplace to support the employeeRachael Cumming. Learn more
Supporting the workplace to support the employeeJames Jeffress. Learn more
Discovering Micro Enterprise: Exploring possibilitiesHelen Neale. Learn more
Creating a micro-enterprise to explore Sethmi's interestsSethmi Lekamarachchi. Learn more
Creating a micro-enterprise to explore Sethmi's interestsErosha Bakmiwewa. Learn more
How Customised Employment enabled Ryan to surpass everyone's expectationsCorinna Gilligan. Learn more
Tips, Tussles and Traps: The transition to work for young people with disabilityMichelle Wakeford. Learn more
How Gus found himself a second job through his community connectionsGus Reichelt. Learn more
How Gus found himself a second job through his community connectionsRonny Reichelt. Learn more