Job security and a flexible work environment have given Attila the opportunity to live his dreams


In his early 20s, Attila suffered a drug induced psychosis and was admitted to a psychiatric ward where his life went on a downward spiral. Now, over a decade later Attila lives independently, has travelled the world and supports himself through employment at Clean Force Property Services, one of WISE Employment’s social enterprises.

In 2002, Attila was introduced to Clean Force; a leading commercial cleaning company with the prime purpose of employing people with a disability or severe mental illness. His first meeting with Paul Fraser was the catalyst for his whole life turning around. After being unemployed for four years and in and out of hospital, Attila was looking for someone to give him a chance and Paul was able to provide that and more.

He started his training in 2006 and completed a Certificate III in Asset Maintenance to enable him to join Clean Force. With 10 years employment now under his belt, Attila has never looked back.

“Joining Clean Force impacted my life immensely, if I didn’t have this job I don’t know what I would be doing. With my condition, this role and organisation has been perfect for me as they are so understanding and flexible around my health problems, I couldn’t have asked for better support,” said Attila.

With stable employment, Attila has been able to not only independently support himself but also save money to live his life the way he has always wanted to.

“Three years ago, I was able to travel to Europe with my Aunty for six weeks, it was an incredible experience. I’ve also started art classes, which I’m really enjoying. It is great to be able to get out and socialise again, something that I never could have afforded or have the confidence to do without my job,” Attila explained with pride.

For someone who had never done any cleaning work before, Attila has really proven himself as a valuable member of the team. He has established great relationships with the other team members and is always so eager to learn and offer himself up for extra work.

“Attila is such a motivation and inspiration for the rest of the team,” says Vickie, Attila’s supervisor at Clean Force. “He has been so committed to the job and we’ve all been extremely impressed with what he has been able to achieve and how far he has come in the last 10 years.”

Attila is one of Clean Force’s longest serving employees and is now looking for the next opportunity to progress within the organisation.

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Celebrating WISE Employment’s 25th anniversary, Luke reflects on his past and highlights how the program helped turn his life around


Throughout his twenties, Luke fought a long and hard battle with drug addiction. After getting help from programs such as WISE Employment, Luke was able to turn his life around. 14 years clean, Luke is now working in the LNG (liquid natural gas) sector and describes his life to be fuller, happier and more purposeful.

Luke, who is now 42 years old, found himself in a dark place 20 years ago. Due to his drug addiction he was financially dependent on the government, living on the street and found himself going in and out of police cells.

In 2003, Luke was ready to take control of his life. He was spiralling down a troublesome path, going in and out of cells and spending 1 month in assessment prison. He was introduced to the Bail Coordinator for the Magistrates Court, Jo, who had a connection with WISE Employment and was eager to help Luke get his life back.

“I was in a merry-go-round with the court system and had one last chance before I would be locked up again. I didn’t want that to happen. Jo introduced me to WISE Employment, where I was able to do some courses that really embraced me entering society again,” explained Luke.

With the help of WISE Employment, Luke was able to gain his independence back. After being unemployed for four years (on and off), Luke was able to develop and rebuild the skills required to enter the workforce again. He was able to get a job labouring and later spent 2.5 years working on an island in the LNG sector.

WISE Employment also provided Luke with mentors and emotional support through their Make It Work program. Make It Work was an enhanced vocationally focused employment and mentoring program developed and funded by WISE Employment. Make It Work ran from 2002 to 2006 and supported over 300 voluntary participants who were on bail. The program helped Luke stay focused on the end goal.

Today, Luke works in the LNG sector and is also very passionate about supporting people living with drug and alcohol addiction. Luke is very involved with Joseph’s Corner, a not-for-profit support service for families and friends living with drug and alcohol addiction. It provides free counselling services and family therapy as well as free educational workshops on self-esteem, problem resolution and meditation.

“The family unit is normally left shocked and traumatised after seeing a loved one battle with addiction, while the individual or addict is generally provided with all forms of assistance. Given my personal experience, this is a cause that I am extremely passionate about.”

Luke now has a secure job, a loving and supportive partner and is helping others find their way – he explained that WISE Employment gave him an opportunity to live a big and beautiful life.

Are you looking for work? Register your interest as a WISE Employment job seeker.

If you’re an employer, register your job vacancies online.

Green-thumb Nick extends his passion for gardening into the workforce, thanks to WISE


Nick loves to garden, a passion he shares with his wife and a calming experience he commits to every fortnight with a cup of tea. Nick has an intellectual disability and suffers from anxiety and stress. It can be difficult for Nick to process information and sometimes make decisions, however that hasn’t stopped Nick from finding work in a role he enjoys.

Nick works at his local Coles and unsurprisingly you’ll find him in the fruit and vegetable department.

“I work 57 hours a fortnight and have been a successful Coles team member for the past 12.5 years. I started as a face-up team member and over the years I’ve worked in different sections, currently I am in the fruit and vegetable department and I really like it” described Nick.

Nick came to WISE Employment in 2004. At the time, he was seeking employment in the retail sector after successfully completing a Certificate II in Retail. In trying to find a role that was reflective of his capabilities, WISE reached out to a number of local retailers to determine if there were any areas of the business where roles could be created, thus increasing his opportunities of employment.

“WISE helped me get ready for job interviews. They also helped me with my resume. I still catch up with them weekly to talk about what’s going on at work,” said Nick.

The support of WISE and the frequent visits of a Workplace Mentor has enabled Nick to build his relationships with colleagues, improve his communication skills and boost his confidence.

“WISE has helped me with my workplace communication and being more assertive at work. I work with ten people, everybody is different and having guidance on how to approach different work situations and personalities has been great,” explained Nick.

In addition to the mentoring and guidance, WISE also supported Coles by upskilling Nick to complete a Senior First Aid certificate. Nick has previously received an award for ‘Best Shop Keeping Standards’ and is striving to achieve further awards within his department.

Paid employment has enabled Nick to become financially independent. This financial freedom has seen him save up for holidays away with his wife and spending time socialising with friends.

Are you looking for work? Register your interest as a WISE Employment job seeker.

If you’re an employer, register your job vacancies online.




From LA to Melbourne, Joe Graffam jetted onto the WISE Employment Board, bringing his research skills to the frontline

Joe Graffam

Joe Graffam has a MA and PhD in Psychology from UCLA and in 1986 decided to move half way across the world to Australia, where he began a journey that would have a huge impact on the disability employment industry on the other side of the globe.

Over the last 30 years he has worked at Deakin University in several senior roles while conducting research on community integration of people with a disability and has been involved in the development of key degree courses around disability studies. Since 2003, his research has also focused on reintegration of prisoners post-release. He is a founding Board member for WISE Employment and is currently employed as the Pro Vice Chancellor, Research Training and Performance Enhancement at Deakin University.

The plan to establish WISE Employment was introduced to Joe via a mutual contact in 1992. He was extremely interested and passionate about the work the organisation would be doing to integrate people with a disability into more meaningful employment.

“I was approached by one of the founders to join the new Board, and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse because the WISE founder values aligned with mine, and the objective was to lead the way in this area. I knew I could bring in my research expertise to help.”

“Back then it was the time of sheltered workshops for people with a disability, and with the Disability Services Act coming into fruition, it was a really exciting time to see the industry evolve and WISE was among the pioneers in a new industry, opening up the world of employment to people with disability. Of course, WISE’s growth and evolution over time and the focus on disadvantage generally has been just as exciting and rewarding.”

Having been involved with the WISE Board for the past 25 years, in a voluntary capacity, Joe believes the group has a strong combination of innovative ideas and commitment to the community, which is the foundation of the organisation’s success.

His highlights include the work of the WISE Community Investment Division. There are many examples, one being a funded mentor program that has supported offender rehabilitation and helped them secure meaningful employment. This is an area in which Joe has done extensive research, and he has been able to provide insight to make the program a success.

“The way we have been able to diversify our funding so we’re not so reliant on Government money has been key. We have utilised our surplus to reinvest in programs that really add value to the people we are trying to help,” Joe said.

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For 25 years, WISE Employment has been helping people land jobs and Catherine is no exception!


Catherine is a bubbly, motivated and enthusiastic individual who’s ready to take on the world! Catherine, who lives with an intellectual disability, found the perfect job after joining WISE Employment in 2013.

25 years ago, Catherine was unemployed and felt like she lacked confidence and independence. Today, with the help of WISE Devonport and her Employment Consultant, Karen, Catherine is working in office administration, playing softball and travelling the globe.

“When Catherine joined WISE Employment four years ago, it was clear that all she wanted to do was work. With her specific skills and intellectual disability, we had to ensure that we approached the right employer,” said Karen, Catherine’s Employment Consultant.

Catherine has since been working at Jac’s Accounting, where she assists with filing, cleaning and other jobs.

“I love my job, I’m really enjoying it! This is my first job ever. I take community transport to get there and I like making my own money,” said Catherine.

For 25 years, WISE Employment has been helping people attain jobs, and Catherine couldn’t be more grateful. She explained that through her job she was able to travel to Launceston, Tasmania, somewhere she’d always wanted to go. After catching the travel bug, Catherine decided she would save up and go to New Zealand. In 2016, Catherine and her carer spent two weeks in New Zealand and she described this to be a truly magical experience.

Catherine, who wants to shine a light on what WISE does and how it’s helped her, described the organisation as “awesome, fantastic and brilliant.”

Catherine went on to highlight her relationship with Karen, describing it as a true friendship. Catherine explained that Karen has been a real support and pushed her to try new things such as joining WISE Employment’s softball team, something that Catherine really looks forward to each week.

Everyone at WISE is so proud of how far Catherine has come since 2013, and looks forward to continuing to watch her grow.

Are you looking for work? Register your interest as a WISE Employment job seeker.

If you’re an employer, register your job vacancies online.