WA National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant Will dreamt of working in a job he enjoyed where he could wear corporate clothing and carry a briefcase.
Now, thanks to a Customised Employment program through APM Communities, he’s living his dream, working for disability support provider, Rocky Bay, as a peer group researcher.
Will, 24, who has autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), said he interacts with clients, via tele-practice or face-to-face, to discuss their services and gain feedback on what they’re happy with, not happy with and what they’d like changed.
Easing into the role, Will works two five-hour days a week, but said once his corporate knowledge and confidence builds, it will increase to around 38 hours per week, and he’s excited about working in full-time mainstream employment and the rewards it will bring.
“When I heard I had the job I was speechless. It took a while to sink in, but I was delighted. I started in February. I am enjoying it, and my work colleagues are friendly and supportive,” he said.
Will’s employment opportunity came about after he and mum, Ruth, got word of an APM Communities Customised Employment program, which uses a holistic approach to support people with disability to gain meaningful employment.
An NDIS Local Area Coordinator, an APM Community Capacity Building Project Manager and a bank of mainstream employers who support the program, all work together to create and tailor jobs for participants based on a person’s skills and interests.
“I’d never heard of it before until my friend mentioned APM Communities held Customised Employment information sessions, and I should call to see if we could attend,” Ruth said.
“APM’s Community Capacity Building project manager Gaelen, was wonderful. He explained all the employment support options and how the NDIS could support participants to achieve their employment goals to find work.
“We received useful handouts, including the NDIS "Let's talk about work” booklet, which helped us prepare for Will’s planning meeting and led to him receiving additional NDIS funding for 'Finding and Keeping a Job', funding we weren’t aware of!
“The Customised Employment success stories were amazing. People had micro-business enterprises and others found successful, meaningful, award-wage employment.”
With all this information in hand, Ruth said they attended Will’s plan review meeting and it went really well and his request for funding was approved.
“First, we attended a mentoring session and it helped clarify what was expected of Will and it covered which support providers could assist him,” she said.
“We linked Will with one of the Customised Employment support providers and staff soon visited us at home. They talked to us about the ‘Discovery’ process and worked with Will to discover his likes, dislikes, strengths; what work means to him and his support needs.
“It was a great process and it really helped to build an employment picture for Will.”
Ruth said while the discovery process did take 10 months, it was comprehensive.
“It showed us what work environments suited Will; the workplace supports he needed, and the jobs they could customise to suit him. It also included areas where he could improve and further develop and a job was customised for him at Rocky Bay,” she said.
“Will then went through an informal interview and two days later he was offered the job.
“The day he started he appeared nice and early in his smart corporate clothing. I was one proud mum to see him happy and smiling with confidence.
“Yes, there were challenges and a lot of paperwork to fill out, but the growth in Will over this time has all been worth it.
“From my perspective my adult son who 12 months ago didn’t believe anyone would hire him, has changed into a positive, caring, and confident young man all because of this program, and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.
Our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) help people with disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, families and carers to identify and access the support they need.