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Good Practice Guides - Disability Employment

NDS has produced a series of good practice guides for members that provide comprehensive instructions for employers cover NDIS Employment Supports, Classifying Employees and Supported Wage System under...

Western Australia Disability Support Awards - 2024 Nominees

Congratulations to our 2024 Western Australia Disability Support Awards nominees! Visit the Western Australian Disability Support Awards page for information about the upcoming awards.

NDIS Review: Final Report Webcast

Breakdown of the recommendations and actions from the NDS Review, focusing on key areas of the NDIS.

Employment Service Transformation

An office space with people sitting at desks with large monitors. One person is sitting at a desk in conversation with another person that is standing nearby, they are both looking at the monitor that appears to have code displayed

Key benefits

  • Increased knowledge of the differences and the reasons for delivering customised employment methods
  • Increased knowledge in the key components to service transformation
  • Obtain a roadmap to service and mindset change bringing along staff and operations

Who is this for?

Senior Managers and CEOs, Operational Managers, Organisational Development Professionals HR Managers, People and Culture Leads and anyone involved in strategic direction planning in Disability Services.

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About these resources

Building stronger employment sector capability - service transition support resource materials.

Customized employment expert Sara Murphy recently visited Australia and shared her expertise and knowledge around service transition and the concepts of ‘Employment First’ . NDS together with a number of Victorian partners including IDV, Koomarri, Centre for Social Impact - Swinburne University, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Yooralla and MiLife have developed a package of support resources designed to foster service transition, methodology and considerations under a modernised holistic ‘braided’ model. By adopting this service approach service providers can build capability and create community based employment outcomes for participants with more significant disability.

These resources address the methodology and considerations under a modernised holistic braided model of employment. From the preparation process, including ways to gain commitment at all levels of the organisation from the Board to frontline staff, to practical ways to realign resources and developing the skills necessary for successful employment and community integration.

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Supported Employment in Australia

Supported employment services are those which support the paid employment of people with disabilities. These services support people who, because of their disabilities, need substantial ongoing support to obtain or keep paid employment.

Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) or Social Enterprises are organisations that provide supported employment services. They are an important service providing people with disability who have high support needs with employment opportunities. There has been an increase in advocacy for fairer pay and better employment pathways to open employment.

This led to Government and advocates holding a Supported Employment Roundtable in 2022 where they agreed on a set of guiding principles for supported employment. These principles were established by the Department of Social Services (DSS).

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Guiding principles for the future of supported employment - for people with disability with high employment support needs

Guiding principles for the future of supported employment | Department of Social Services, Australian Government (

These principles align with NDS’s long-term goals and vision for a strong and sustainable supported employment industry. Read about NDS’s vision for the sector here. An Industry Vision for the Supported Employment Sector (

These employment Vision and Principles offer Supported Employment Organisations a chance to transform and adapt to a new way of working. A braided service model has the potential to lead the way.

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Innovation in Employment Service Delivery

There have been several transformational examples in the US, that have changed whole organisational operations and successfully provided transition pathways to open employment for participants.

One example is Sara Murphy’s Worklink service in San Francisco. Sara is an expert on employment for people with disability, who has successfully helped organisations manage the transition to a braided model across the USA. The implementation and transformation of these businesses, enables them to use a braided model of support whereby participants are upskilled through various methods based on community participation and identifying transferable life skills to the workplace.

The braided employment service model is a person-centred approach to employment supports and services and may lead the way in delivering on some of these principles. The goal of customised employment is to tailor a job to fit the skills, interests, strengths and support needs of a person with disability whilst meeting the needs of business.

Below are some of Sara’s implementation methodologies and resources as a guide to other organisations transformation journey’s.

Service Transformation

“We must ‘re-frame’ how we support and serve people with disabilities – its about people not programs”. Sara Murphy, TransCen

Learn about:

  • Braided services of work and non-work
  • Community-based instruction, utilising public resources, not special programs
  • Focus is on building skills, social self-sufficiency and pathways to open Employment
  • Customised Employment placement methods
  • Pathways to Employment – a braided team-based approach
  • Making Big Change

Learn from others who have transformed their services. How did they do it?

  • Incorporate what you are learning into your organisation’s policies, hiring practices, job descriptions, training and marketing materials
  • Find your pioneers, innovators, big thinkers. Bring them into the discussion
  • Work with your funding agencies
  • Showcase changes & successful efforts

A Path Forward

  • Build a Transformation Team
  • Build a road map for change (Value Stream Mapping)
  • Develop a Strategic Plan and implementation/action plan
  • Set concrete goals. Collect and share data throughout
  • Provide training and step-by-step instructions. What looks like “resistance” is often a lack of clarity.
  • Remember: “Change” is a process that includes failure and learning- and that’s OK

Build your Team

  • Recruit from all levels of the organisation (leadership, management, direct service personnel, families, funders…)
  • Objectives are to plan, coordinate and manage transformation efforts across the organisation
  • Give staff time and room to work, create a “free space” for brainstorming
  • Embrace a “throw the flag” “bring out your dead” mentality
  • Provide training and resources: tour agencies who have transformed, build a local community of practice

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Process Improvement through Value Stream Mapping (Lean Management Strategy)

  • Visualise your current service process
  • Align your team and gain buy-in for change
  • Re-Focus services and processes on the right things:
  • Our customers
  • The services requested or needed
  • How do we provide these efficiently?

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Value Stream Mapping - Why Use Value Stream Mapping

Strategic planning in organisations tends to focus at a “high level”. New goals are developed by the leaders, but “day to day” processes are not evaluated or new roles and methods not clarified to the frontline operational staff. Managers and direct service workers have the goal but not the how to achieve it. This is where Value Stream Mapping (VSM) can be helpful in guiding the transformational change, it provides:

  • An inclusive, empowering process - includes leadership, administration, management, direct service personnel and individual/families
  • Looks at the entire process from the perspective our customers
  • Outlines and analyses current service processes/method - what is contributing? What is not adding value?
  • Identifies “bright spots” and shifts focus: What do our customers want? What are we doing right? How can we do more of this?
  • Develops a Future State map and an Implementation/Action Plan. What would services look like in a perfect world?
  • Shifts perspective and focus: from “programs” to “customer”, creating an individualised, person-centered service model
  • Identifies underutilised use of resources and inefficient processes
  • What should we stop doing? What do we scale up? Where are the gaps? What’s a better way? Where do we start?

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Establish an Organisational Change Mindset

  • Engagement, input and buy-in
  • Understanding, transparency, collaboration
  • Planning and a clear road forward
  • Ability and capacity: resources and training

See more information in the Resources provided below. We thank those organisations who supported Sara Murphy’s visit to Australia.

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Sara Murphy profile photo

Sarah Murphy Biography

Sara Murphy is a Senior Training Associate for TransCen, Inc. and the Director of TransCen’s WorkLink program. TransCen is an American non-profit organisation dedicated to improving education and employment success of youth and young adults with disability. TransCen’s work is driven by the belief that employment and active community participation are attainable for all individuals, regardless of disability or other perceived barriers to employment. For the past 30 years, Ms. Murphy’s focus has been on community inclusion and employment for people with disability.

She has extensive experience in program development, person-centered community-based services, Customised Employment methods and system change and service transformation.

As part of TransCen’s training and consultation team, Ms. Murphy provides technical assistance and training at multiple levels: US federal/state agencies, school districts, service providers and individuals/families. Ms. Murphy has participated in a number of American federal and state initiatives, such as Social Security Administration’s Youth Transition Demonstration Projects, the Federal Department of Education’s Customised Employment training project and Wisconsin’s Building Full Lives Project.

Currently, she is a Subject Matter Expert for the US Federal Department of Labor’s Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) and is supporting state agencies and providers across America with system and service transformation efforts. In addition to this work, Ms. Murphy also consulted for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Project SEARCH program, replicating the project model, and helping to establish Project SEARCH’s Learning Academy.

Credit: Sara Murphy, TransCen Inc

Related Resources

For Organisations

Videos and Podcasts

Podcast: Turning the Queen Mary Podcast

Credit: Sara Murphy
Listen to the podcast

Video: Appealing to the Emotion

Credit: Starfire Cincy,
View the video: Starfire 'How do you define your life?'

Video: Employment and Micro-business

Ticket to Work - Kyal's story
Credit: Brotherhood of St Laurence
Our Stories - Ticket to Work
View: Kyal's story

Video - Customised Employment: Customised Employment stories by Ticket to Work

Credit: Brotherhood of St Laurence
Initiatives | Customised Employment - Ticket to Work 

Video and podcast - Inclusive Career Development

Credit: Ticket to Work, Brotherhood of St Laurence and with the Australia Centre for Career Education (ACCE)
News - Ticket to Work

Webinar - Employment Pathways for people with a disability: Lessons learned from the United States Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University

View the webinar
Credit: Jennie Crosbie, Swinburne University

Presentations, Flyers and Fact Sheets

Presentation: Building Lives that Matter, by Sara Murphy powerpoint presentation

Credit: Sara Murphy
Download Presentation [PDF]

Manual: Provider Transformation Manual 2.0

Download manual [PDF]

Presentation: Service Transformation Guide

Credit: Sara Murphy
Download Presentation [PDF]
Download Presentation [DOC]

Fact Sheet: Life Skills Assessment Fact Sheet

Credit: Sara Murphy, TransCen Inc
Download Fact Sheet [PDF]

Presentation: Customised Employment 2.0: Principles to Practice

Credit: Sara Murphy and IDV
Download Presentation [PPT]

Presentation: Building Meaningful Lives – A new day for Day Services

Credit: IDV
Download Presentation [PDF]

Resource: Customised Employment, Work First Customised Employment™ Program Outline

Credit: Centre for Disability Employment Research and Practice (CDERP)
Download Program Outline [PDF]

Presentation: Engaging Employers and negotiating customised position for young job seekers with disability

Credit: Brotherhood of St Laurence
News - Ticket to Work

Credit: TransCen
Download document - what's your elevator speech? [DOC]
Download document – Examples of Waste in Business [DOC]
Download document – Cost Analysis Example [DOC]
Download document – Cost Analysis Example [XLS]
Download Presentation [PPTX]

Flyer: Imagine the Possibilities: Increasing employment opportunities for people with disability with US based expert, Sara Murphy.

Credit: IDV, Yooralla, MiLife, the ‘Ticket to Work’ team at the Brotherhood of St Laurence along with the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University and Koomarri.
Download flyer [PDF]


Form: Life Skills Assessment Template

Credit: Sara Murphy, TransCen Inc
Download Form [XLS]

Form: Positive Personal Profile (PPP)

Credit: Sara Murphy, TransCen Inc
Download Form [DOC]
Download Form [PDF]

Form: Employer Proposal template

Credit: Sara Murphy, TransCen Inc
Download Template [DOC]

Form: Informational Interview form

Credit: TransCen Inc
Download Form [DOC]

Form: Work Integration Social Enterprise and Ability Self-Assessment Tool for Organisations

Credit: Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology
Download Form [PDF]


Training: TransCen Online Training

Credit: TransCen Inc
TransCen Online Training

Training - NDS Lean Transformation In-House Workshop series

View NDS training

For Families, advocates and people with disability

Video: "Imagine the Possibilities: Creating Pathways to Meaningful Lives" presented by Sara Murphy – TransCen, Inc. 8 May, 2023

Credit: Yooralla

View the video

Imagine the Possibilities is a discussion on employment for all people with disabilities presented by US-based Senior Training Associate with TransCen, Inc., Sara Murphy.

Presented in partnership with Yooralla, IDV, MiLife, the ‘Ticket to Work’ team at the Brotherhood of St. Laurence along with the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, this session is designed for people with disability and their families and advocates to learn about the benefits of person-centered discovery and Customised Employment as a means to enter the workforce and sustain a job.

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Thank you to the following organisations for providing contributions to this resource:

IDV One person at a time logo Yooralla logo Brotherhood of St Laurence logo Centre for social impact Swinburne logo MiLife Victoria Small White Logo

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Kym Vassiliou, Project and Engagement, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number