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Removing employment barriers in the disability sector

IntoWork Australia has announced Interact Australia will join the national employment company. Working to promote social inclusion, equality, health and well-being in the disability sector, Interact is the first disability focused business to join the growing IntoWork network this year. 

With IntoWork’s services now expanding to assisting people with disabilities find work, its commitment to reducing barriers to employment in all communities continues to be recognised across the country. 

For 25 years, Interact has excelled in enhancing lives through participation, opportunity and choice. This not-for-profit organisation is committed to providing the highest quality services to people with disabilities and by joining IntoWork, recognition of these services will strengthen.

Both IntoWork and Interact are leaders in community participation, working with Government, Corporate and Not-for-Profit sectors to create meaningful opportunities for individuals.

IntoWork Group CEO, Poul Bottern says there needs to be more focus on people with a disadvantage in finding employment.

“In 2015, there were 4.3 million Australians (18.3% of the total population) with disability and out of this, only 27% were in full-time employment*. People with disability are more likely to be unemployed due to discrimination in the workplace and a lack of community support and services. IntoWork aims to assist in building Interact’s valuable services and also  increase the number of employment opportunities for people with disability,” said Mr. Bottern. 

As a registered disability service provider, under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Interact has always been a strong supporter of giving people with a disability a voice in the community.

Interact CEO, Andrew James says joining a national group with the same goals and views is a good fit.

“IntoWork assists people that may not have access to all the resources they need to find a job. As a longtime supporter of the NDIS and now part of a national group, I am excited about the benefits we can bring to people with disabilities in the Victorian and Queensland markets where our offices are based but also across Australia,” said Mr. James. 

The NDIS will provide about 460,000 Australians under the age of 65 with a permanent and significant disability with the necessary supports they need to live an ordinary life by investing in their future**. The NDIS will deliver individualised funding directly to people with a disability towards their support, which people will then use to access services through organisations such as Interact. .

Through innovative programs and services, IntoWork and Interact will work towards reducing discrimination or unfair treatment of people with disability in the workforce.  Interact will also continue to provide its valuable support services to people with disabilities across Victoria and Queensland.

For over 30 years, IntoWork has provided expert services in employment, training and recruitment to a high number of individuals and businesses. Chaired by Hon Alan Brown, IntoWork has a primary focus of placing people into employment and thrives at addressing skill and workforce shortages in the community. Through its businesses, IntoWork Australia has been making a positive difference across Australia to the people and communities it works with, through integrated services and business expertise.

*Source: ABS Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: First Results Report, 2015

** Source: 

NDIS commences in Victoria

From the 1St July 2016 the NDIS will begin to be available across Victoria. People currently receiving support through the Victorian Government will move to the NDIS at different time depending on where they live and the type of service/support they receive. It is expected to take up to 12 months for eligible people with disability to enter the NDIS once the rollout starts in an area.

Click on the link below to see a video that was published on the NDIS website relating to the rollout of NDIS in Victoria




Roll out of the NDIS in Melbourne Metropolitan areas

When is the NDIS coming to my area?

Below is a map of where the NDIS will be rolled out.

NDIS Melbourne Map










Over the coming years the NDIS will be rolled out to various locations around Victoria. The table below illustrates where these nominated areas will be and when.

NDIS Rollout in Victoria

20161st July - North East Melbourne
Yarra, Banyule, Darebin, Nillumbik and Whittlesea
20171st January - Central Highlands
Ararat, Ballarat, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool, Pyrenees
1st May - LoddonCampaspe, Central Goldfields, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander
1 October - Ovens MurrayAlpine, Benella, Indigo, Mansfield, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga
1 October - Inner GippslandBass Coast, Baw Baw, Latrobe, South Gippsland
1 October - Western DistrictCorangamite, Glenelg, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Moyne, Northern Grampians, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack
1 November - Inner East MelbourneBoroondara, Manningham, Monash, Whitehorse
1 November - Outer Eastern MelbourneKnox, Maroondah, Yarra Ranges
20181 March 2018 - Hume Moreland
1 April - Bayside PeninsulaBayside, Frankston, Glen Eira, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip, Stonnington
1 September - Southern MelbourneCardinia, Casey, Greater Dandenong
1 October - Brimbank Melton
1 October - Western MelbourneHobson Bay, Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Wyndham
20191 July - MalleeBuloke, Gannawarra, Mildura, Swan Hill
1 July - GoulburnGreater Shepparton, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi, Strathbogie
1 July - Outer GippslandEast Gippsland, Wellington


NDIS set to improve lives of Northern Queenslanders

Today the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments announced NDIS early transition sites in Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island.

Around 1600 people are expected to be eligible for the NDIS in the early transition sites, with up to 600 of these people expected to receive their funded packages by 1 July 2016. The remaining 1000 eligible people from the early transition sites will receive their funded packages from July 2016.

The Queensland early transition sites will deliver supports and services to children and young people under 18 years of age in Townsville and Charters Towers and all eligible people under the age of 65 in Palm Island.

The early transition is available to those who meet the NDIS access requirements, including people who do not currently receive supports from the Commonwealth or State governments.

More information


Roll out of NDIS in NSW and Victoria

On 16 September 2015, the bilateral agreements for the roll out of the NDIS in New South Wales and Victoria were signed by governments.

It is expected that almost 245,000 Australians will ultimately be covered by the NDIS in New South Wales and Victoria.

Negotiations on bilateral agreements are continuing between the Commonwealth and the other state and territory governments.

More information


NDIS release Quarter 4 report - 19 Aug 2015

The National Disability Insurance Scheme has released their most recent report on the progress of the scheme.

To read more click here

African Aid Program

Our CEO Andrew James was fortunate to be invited to participate in an African aid program during February/March 2015 and here is an overview, together with a personal insight into the journey;

IMG_2195IMG_2203‘Gone Fishing’ is an East-African humanitarian aid/immersion leadership program, aimed at connecting present and future decision makers in Corporate Australia with the people of Africa. This program centres upon a twelve day immersion visiting a variety of projects supported by the Edmund Rice Foundation. ‘Gone Fishing’ is aimed at providing a unique opportunity for individuals who are looking to attend a meaningful and challenging international professional development program.  The program seeks to harness and further develop the leadership, management and interpersonal skills of each attendee whilst at the same time presenting the human face of Africa with all its vibrancy and complexity.

The program is aimed at successful businessmen and women who have influence over the decision-making structures that will determine the world of tomorrow. The Edmund Rice Foundation in recognising this reality seeks to provide an opportunity for business people to immerse themselves in the development projects of East Africa.  Our hope is to inspire, challenge and engage each participant to be agents for change in their own community and to motivate others to support the impoverished and disempowered on their own doorstep.

The Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia)  ( is a non-government organisation which supports sustainable development projects in developing countries. The Foundation supports projects which:

  • work collaboratively with local communities
  • are grounded in the expressed needs of those communities
  • promote continuous improvement and the wellbeing of those communities
  • deliver a fair distribution of the benefits that result from the projects

The Foundation is active in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of the projects it supports.

In particular, the Foundation supports education, health, vocational training and community development projects in Africa, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

Within Australia, the Foundation supports programs for socially and financially disadvantaged children, youth and families, including programs for indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers.  The Foundation assists projects that promote the advancement of education for Australian youth in circumstances of poverty, disability and remoteness.

The Foundation’s support of projects and programs for some of the most disadvantaged people in developing countries and within Australia, embodies its mandate to support the vision and mission of the Oceania Edmund Rice Network in the developing world and among the socially and financially disadvantaged within Australia.

In providing effective aid the Foundation works in partnership with a number of partner groups and a range of schools across Australia.

The predecessor of Edmund Rice Foundation (Australia) was the Christian Brothers’ Foundation for Charitable Works (CBFCW), which was established in 1987 in the Christian Brothers’ former St Patrick’s Province, Australia (Victoria & Tasmania). CBFCW was mandated to support St Patrick’s Province’s domestic outreach to disadvantaged children and youth. CBFCW also had responsibility for supporting St Patrick’s Province’s outreach in East Africa, which was pioneered by the Province in the late 1980s. Eventually, support for East Africa became CBFCW’s major focus over the subsequent 20 years.

Whilst in Africa, Andrew spent a number of days at the following centres where the Edmund Rice Foundation operates:

  • Mary Rice Day Care Centre ( in Kibera ( which supports children with physical and intellectual disabilities from the Kibera slum, which is located approximately 5km from central Nairobi. Kibera has been described as one of the most crowded places on earth and estimates of its population vary widely from around 750,000 to as high as 1.5 million. Life in Kibera is characterised by extreme poverty, few or no basic services and high rates of crime and unemployment. There is significantly high levels of child abuse, disease and sickness. No running water or sanitation.
  • The Reuben Centre ( in Nairobi which currently operates 7 programs providing health, education and social development services for the people of the Mukuru slum, about 10km form central Nairobi. Mukuru is made up of about 20 villages which house about 900,000 people in inhuman conditions. The vision of the Ruben Centre is for a just and empowered Mukuru community. Ruben Centre consists of a primary school, medical clinic, community development and vocational training facilities. The primary school provides for over 2300 children from nursery to class 8 with about 27 teachers. The medical clinic employs nurses, clinical officers, laboratory technician, pharmacist and a HIV/AIDS counsellor. The clinic receives up to 200 presentations a day for general medical consultations and treatment. Antenatal care is provided and testing and treatment programs for TB and HIV. Preventative health education programs are also conducted. A social worker runs the community development unit which works collaboratively with the local people in the villages in providing services. The vocational training facility provides opportunities for the development of employable skills in dressmaking and knitting.
  • Brother Beausang ( closer to the utopian model of what the foundation is endeavouring to deliver in partnership with the Christian brothers. An integrated facility for about 700 students, from primary to secondary. This school is located in the Embulbul slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Very good facilities from an African perspective, with modern classrooms and facilities.  

Part of the program was also attending home visits in the slums, to the parents of the children who participated in the programs. An intense and powerful emotional journey. I can advise from firsthand experience, this program was highly challenging, confronting and in many ways an emotional journey, but I have been inspired by the stories of hope that have emanated from the harsh realities of the region. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness these poorest areas of the world, which may well present further opportunities for partnership or collaboration into the future.

To view a video of the Edmund Rice Foundation "Gone Fishing Project" click here.