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A systemic change approach: explore and improve school to work transition for young people with disability

The employment gap between young people with disability and those without disability is widening in Australia.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has been trialling a systemic change approach to explore and improve school-to-work transition for young people with disabilities, working with a diverse group of experts including Transition to Work providers

Our presentation will:

  • exploring the learning from 10 years of the Ticket to Work model, a place-based collaborative approach to improving outcomes for students with disability as they transition from school,
  • examining systemic and structural barriers to work for young people with disability and leverage points for intervention.
  • exploring whether and how the structure and design of employment programs and disability services administered by DEWR, DSS, and the NDIA (and broader) may be limiting opportunities for young people with disability to work.
  • examining how federal government policies intended to improve the employment prospects of young people with disability relate to activity with the same aim in other jurisdictions and outside government in Australia,
  • analysing how the legislative and policy landscape shapes relationships between young people with disability, employers, employment services providers, and the community,
  • identifying opportunities to align policy, practice, and resources across service systems to address barriers to work for young people with disability more effectively and efficiently than existing arrangements and improve their prospects of finding and keeping work, and
  • learnings from our current pilot, Inclusive Pathway to Employment (IPE), which is finding what works best to make mainstream youth employment services (Transition to Work) accessible and inclusive for young people with disability.



A/Prof Sue Olney

UoM-BSL Principal Research Fellow , University of Melbourne


Associate Professor Sue Olney is the UoM-BSL Principal Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
Her research examines the impact of market-based reform of public services on marginalised citizens, with a focus on disability, employment, and the welfare-to-work service system.
Sue has worked in universities, government and in the not-for-profit sector, and been involved in a range of cross-government, cross-sector and interdisciplinary research projects, government and community sector initiatives, committees and working groups to promote access and equity in employment, education, training and disability services in Australia and internationally.
She is on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Public Administration and is the Director of the social policy discussion platform Power to Persuade.

Sinead Gibney-Hughes

Sinead Gibney-Hughes

Senior Policy Officer , Brotherhood of St Laurence


Sinead Gibney-Hughes is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Social Policy and Research Centre, working within the Youth Opportunity team. Sinead has significant experience in practice and service development across a range of service systems and sectors with a focus on shaping and leading policy and program responses to youth unemployment, youth homelessness and the transition through school to work.


Michelle Wakeford

Senior Advisor Youth Transition Disability , Brotherhood of St Laurence


Michelle has extensive experience in developing, implementing, and researching innovative practices. She has been key in supporting capacity building in effective practice in school-to-work transition and has experience in policy and program development, and system transformation. Michelle was recently recognised by the Australian Centre Careers Education (ACCE) with ‘The Founders Award’, for her work in supporting effective career education for young people with disability.