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Career opportunities and training for people with a mental illness or disability

Career opportunities and training for people with a mental illness or disability

Finding the right fit: Career opportunities and training for people with a mental illness or disability

Most of us would agree that it is extremely important to find a meaningful and purposeful career. This is just as important for people living with a mental illness or disability. At Healthcare Australia, we understand the importance of finding fulfilling work and want to provide you with the advice on helping participants find their perfect role.

Job hunting can be a challenging for anyone. Being subjected to evaluation on your ability to complete job tasks can be an intimidating process.  This means that applying for jobs can be even more daunting for people with a mental illness or disability. However, there are several steps you can do to help prepare someone for the job application process.


Learning Opportunities (Preparing for work)

The first step towards finding the perfect role for someone is getting them prepared for the role ahead. Finding courses and training is one of the perfect steps forward for gaining employment. It allows the participant to get the education they need to transition into work.

EmployEase offer a Certificate 1 in Transition Education which provides a step-by-step pathway to either further education, employment, or greater involvement with the community. This entry-level course is designed for people facing barriers to learning due to permanent intellectual disability/cognitive impairment.

Importantly, if a participant has unused support worker hours or has allocated NDIS plan funding, their support worker will be able to use their hours to bring their clients to these classes.

Finding the right fit:  Career opportunities and training for people with a mental illness or disability
Finding the right fit: Career opportunities and training for people with a mental illness or disability

Registering with a Disability Employment Service and Applying

When you register with a Disability Employment Service (DES), they can help align a participant with a suitable service. Initially, this registration will occur through a call with Centrelink. They will carry out an employment assessment to see if the participant is eligible. Once it has been determined that you are eligible, they will refer you to a DES. These service providers may include-

  • Jigsaw Australia
  • APM
  • WISE Employment
  • atWork Australia
  • MAX Solutions
  • Maxima


Once your participant has been allocated a DES, it is time to start preparing them for the job hunting and application process, preparing a resume and cover letter and what to expect in an interview.


Firstly, you will want to look in the right place for a job. This may include networking, classified ads, job boards, job fairs, school job placement or career development offices or temp agencies to help find vacancies.


Tips to consider when job hunting:

  • Respond to job listings and advertisements quickly
  • Be prepared to send many resumes and make many applications
  • You must be prepared to actively seek jobs
  • Keep good records
  • Put a lot of time into your resumes and cover letters
  • Prepare and practice for interviews
  • Make sure you have some support
  • Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back or are turned down for some jobs. It’s all a part of the process and good learning experience (maybe re-write this, this is just the general idea I’d like to capture)


Resume – used by most employers to screen applicants to see how well they fit the requirements of the role. It is the first impression and best way to grab a reader’s attention as to why you should be hired.


Some resume tips:

  • Make your resume one to two pages long
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Having a friend or family member proof read it is really helpful.
  • Describe your previous experiences accurately and in enough detail that the reader can get a clear sense of your activities and capabilities
  • Give yourself full credit for all aspects of the work you have done
  • Include all relevant previous work, volunteering, work experience, hobbies, and life experience
  • Send your email in a timely fashion
  • Create more than one resume

Some things to avoid while looking for career opportunities:

  • Overcrowd the page with type
  • Lie or put inaccurate information on your resume
  • Include information that will diminish your chance of gaining employment
  • Include references in the body of your resume.
  • Cover letters – this should be separate to the resume and include three sections that are-
  • The identification: explain how you identified this particular employer, what position you are applying for, and your source of information
  • The body: relates to specific skills and abilities that pertain to the role. Highlight what makes you the perfect candidate.
  • The request: ask directly for an interview or look to schedule a time to call to further discuss your eligibility for the role.


Other cover letter tips include-

  • Address the letter to someone specific if possible.
  • Keep it short and clear.
  • Let it reflect your individuality but be polite and professional.
  • Highlight what makes you special for the role.
  • Always end with a ‘thank you’ and remember to sign it.


If an employer is impressed with your resume and cover letter, they may offer you an interview. In order to prepare for an interview, here are a few helpful tips-


  • Practice interview techniques with a friend, family member, or job coach.
  • Prepare responses to questions you think will be asked.
  • Know exactly where you are headed for the interview.
  • Think of questions and things you would like to know about the role and the business.
  • Show enthusiasm for the job.
  • Find out about the organisation before the interview to be further prepared.
  • Be familiar with your pros and cons, so you can answer promptly and correctly.
  • Dress appropriately, be friendly, and listen and understand the tone of the interview that has been set.
  • Emphasise your qualifications for the job.

For further information on the application process, preparing for job applications, and interviews click here.


Preparing for the right career opportunities

If everything goes well for a participant, and they are offered employment, there are several things that will need to be considered when starting the new position.

Firstly, there may be some financial impacts on someone’s plan based on how much money they will be earning. If how much someone is earning changes during their plan, this may require a plan review to be conducted to allocate funding.

It is also important to understand your rights in the workplace. Specifically, an employer with over 15 employees may not discriminate against someone due to their disability.

Your rights are in relation to

  • Equal treatment and Opportunity
  • Privacy/Confidentiality
  • Job accommodations

How to best adjust to working life-

  • Prepare for your first day
  • Understand your relationship with others in the job
  • Understand what is expected of you
  • Understand what you can expect from your employer
  • Understand the impact it will have on your social life, try to reduce your social commitments while you settle in to your new job. It can be exhausting!
  • Understand it will impact how much free time you will have
  • Understand it will impact how much money you will have access to
  • Take good care of yourself in this new role

For more information on how to help your participant prepare for work click here.

At Healthcare Australia our purpose is to help people with a disability or illness  live fulfilling lives and help them achieve their goals. If you would like any support of more information on the advice, feel free to reach out to your care coordinator team, and they will be happy to help.


If you would like to discuss your Aged Care Learning needs and how the HCA LMS might match your organisational requirements, contact us today.

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