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Gandel Philanthropy

Sam smiling standing in front of a mountain

Exacerbated by high youth unemployment – sitting at 21% in “hot spots” such as Tasmania – research shows that less than 10% of people with a significant disability participate in the workforce, yet there are more than 680,000 students with disability in Australia.

Barriers often include stereotypes and the low aspirations of students, their parents and schools, compounded by systemic barriers to accessing support and workplace experience leading to sustainable jobs.

In 2012, Ticket to Work was established to support young people with disability to transition from school to open employment and is currently supported by National Disability Services (NDS).

With a three-year partnership funding from Gandel Philanthropy, NDS is evaluating the Ticket to Work model’s sustainability and how to improve the school-to-work transition in four regions that are implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme – Barwon (Victoria), northern Tasmania, southern Tasmania and Canberra.

National Ticket to Work Manager Michelle Wakeford says, “If we want people with disability to be in the workforce, we have to give them opportunities while they’re at school to build their skills and knowledge. It makes sense that we do that in a partnership approach; it’s not just the school’s responsibility, nor just employment services’ responsibilities, it’s how we work together to create opportunities.”

So far in the four regions, 63 young people have done work experience and preparation activities though Ticket to Work, with 21 beginning a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. Importantly, 86% are still in paid employment 52 weeks after starting.

Sam Hasell (pictured), 19, is one of them.

Sam finished at Gilford Young College in 2016, becoming a customer service officer at Blundstone, dealing with online enquiries.

“I really enjoy working with computers; at first I thought the job would be in the warehouse, I was very pleased to be working in an area I like – IT.

“Ticket to Work is a good initiative for people like myself with disability to find employment because it really helps them in the long run. I learnt how to handle work and school and how to be organised and I understand about work a bit more. Ticket to Work has helped because all my life I have struggled to do things for myself. I am a lot more independent now.

“I have really enjoyed the journey so far and am keen to stay with Blundstone in the future.”

Sam’s advice to other students with disability is: “If you have a passion for something, if that is the life you want and the life that you choose, stick to it even when it’s hard.”

Michelle says, “It’s not just about economics, but quality of life and inclusion. The young people who have post-school work have higher levels of social participation, they’re more likely to be going out and going on holidays and in the community, rather than being home because they don’t feel confident.”


  • Ticket to Work provides improved school-to-work transition pathways and employment for people aged 15-19 with a disability.
  • Participants are 50% more likely to complete Year 12, and four times more likely to be employed.
  • After 52 weeks, 86% are still in paid employment.

“We’ve had some great comments from young people around ‘now I know how to work’. Ticket to Work is so successful because it makes sense.”

– Michelle Wakeford, National Ticket to Work Manager

First published in Gandel Philanthropy annual review 2016-2017 P 21.

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