Are you a teacher? Psychologist? Web designer? Trapeze artist?

Whatever your job, your work plays a massive role in your life. It can define who you are and who you want to be. It connects you to your community. And it contributes to your health and well-being, self-esteem and financial capacity.

Every Australian deserves the opportunity to engage in meaningful work. But if you’re one of the 4 million Australians with a disability, the already tough job market is all the harder to crack. Thankfully however, plenty of organisations have taken up the bugle call and by focusing on their staff’s abilities and not their disabilities, they are running successful social enterprises.

Here are some we love.

Aussie Biscuits

Anzac, jam drop, ginger, choc chip, macadamia and shortbread. Why stop at just one when you can nibble on a bickie or six?

And if you’re on the look out for a fundraiser for your school or community group, Aussie Biscuits fundraising packs make it easy to raise big dollars and support a charity for people with disabilities.

When you buy Aussie Biscuits, your sweet tooth certainly gets a workout – but your heart gets to feel good too. That’s because every packet you buy goes towards employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Aussie Biscuits staff

Green Collect

If you’ve enlisted in the war on waste, Green Collect will be your new go-to. Think salvaged stationery, upcycled and recycled goodies, pre-loved fashion and eco-friendly options.

Much of what’s on sale has been diverted from landfill and sent to their stores in Melbourne’s west. Green Collect’s workplace is inclusive and diverse, the skills and potential of all people are recognised and valued. They sort the items into piles; ready for sale as-is, to be repurposed (like turning ring binders and letterhead into notebooks) or to be reduced to raw materials for recycling.

It’s all great value, sustainable and socially responsible. Hard not to love.

Green Collect stationery

Moon Rabbit Cafe

Sitting high and proud on High Street Preston, Moon Rabbit Cafe has become the darling of Melbourne’s coffee drinking north. Great coffee and jaffles made with equal doses of love and imagination are examples of their satisfying and delicious menu options. Moon Rabbit is the social enterprise of the community organisation the Bridge. It provides training and employment for learners with additional needs. What’s more, proceeds fund community programs such as Laneway Lunch which provides a free lunch every Friday to those who might otherwise go without.

Moon Rabbit cafe cups

The Christie Centre

For over 50 years, The Christie Centre has provided services for people with disabilities. Their focus on equity and inclusion crosses their services and into the social enterprises they proudly and successfully operate.

Based in the Victorian town of Mildura, their work spans Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

Their operations are supported by their 4 social enterprises, where staff with disabilities are trained and provided with meaningful occupations: Mildura Chocolates which retail mouth watering treats, Christies Emporium where you can find quality used office furniture, Around Again who stock donated goods for resale or repurpose, and Around Again document destruction.

Christies Emporium staff

Kinfolk & Sibling Cafes

Kinfolk is a Melbourne favourite – a café addressing social inclusion through great coffee and seasonal food. And riding high on this successful combination, they recently opened a second cafe, Sibling in Melbourne’s North Carlton.

Both cafes dish up seriously tasty food and their catering is top notch (as the Goodsmiths staff will attest mmmm!). 100% of their profits are given to charity and their training program is constantly oversubscribed by people who have experienced disadvantage and disability.

Kinfolk catering cakes

Open Canvas

Open Canvas exhibit and sell beautiful art, craft and artists’ merchandise. They stock original artworks, prints, craft and other products, with at least 70% of profits going to the artist. Their diverse collection appeals a wide audience of art lovers.

The artists of Open Canvas are from a range of backgrounds. Some have lived on the street, or experienced substance abuse and addiction; they may be on low incomes within supported and crisis accommodation; and others live with mental health issues and disability.

Open Canvas supports artists beyond the simple process of exhibiting and selling their work. Professional artists provide mentorship and guidance, helping take their art to the next level. Some artists simply require basic supplies – brushes, canvas, paint – which the organisation provides, so they can continue their creative work. Artists build relationships and engage with the community, increasing the possibility of securing commissioned work and public exhibitions.

Open Canvas artist

Avenue Fair trade

Avenue offer ethical, fair trade and organic home and giftware. They also stock their own branded products, such as a heart-warming Christmas card range designed and developed by Avenue team members.

Every member of Avenue’s team has a disability that limits their access to traditional employment. Avenue finds a way to discover and nurture each person’s unique skills and abilities and apply them to meaningful and purposeful work.

Avenue candle

The Big Issue

Big Issue magazine vendors are well-loved sight across our vibrant cities. Each vendor sells the magazines for $9 a piece and pockets half the sale price directly. No charity or hand outs, just a decent read at a good price for fair work.

Training, mentoring and support are all part of the picture for each of the 500 vendors across Australia.

Every vendor has a different story (like Phil here), some include homelessness, long-term unemployment, intellectual and physical disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown. All are focused on improving their lives and working towards a positive future. Can’t be fairer than that.

Big Issue Christmas vendors

Peppergreen Farm Catering

Are you partial to some authentic mouth-watering cooking – without the work or cleaning up? Then look no further than Bendigo’s Peppergreen Farm Catering.

With surprisingly affordable gourmet meals and catering vouchers on offer, you’ve just found the perfect gift for time-poor families, the elderly and pernickety eaters alike. Best of all, every dollar goes towards on-the-job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Peppergreen Farm table of food