About Supported Employment

Employment Services in New Zealand are represented within NZDSN through the Employment Advisory Committee (EAC) the chair of which reports directly  to the Board. The committee uphold the former Association for Supported Employment in New Zealand (ASENZ) principles as  the core principles central to all aspects of Supported Employment provision  in New Zealand.


The seeds of ASENZ were first planted in Auckland in 1993 when a small group of people, each feeling a little isolated and unsupported as they pioneered the development of supported employment services, set out a plan of action. Top of the agenda was the need for support, to share and exchange ideas, and recognition of the need to develop more collaborative and structured approaches to ensure the growth of supported employment in New Zealand.

Supported employment was [and remains] at the leading edge of the development of vocational services for people who experience disability; the kinds of changes that have occurred within the disability sector – not to mention the job market have been huge and the founder members of ASENZ were very positive change agents.

Since those early times ASENZ grew into a nationally recognised organisation with a formal structure that represented the interests of supported employment providers throughout New Zealand. Its membership included a cross section of interests including providers, consumers of services, Supported Employment personnel, professionals and employers.

In October 2013, ASENZ became a Committee within the New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN).

What is Supported Employment

Supported Employment has developed as a viable and successful alternative in the provision of vocational services for people with disability. It will always be an evolving concept in New Zealand, and must never succumb to complacency. Consequently there is a real need to constantly promote, innovate and maintain its profile on the community and political agenda, so that the interests of people with disability may be recognised and well served.

Supported Employment is a concept that looks to assist people disadvantaged in the labour market due to a disability to reach their career aspirations; to improve and expand inclusive employment opportunities and services for all people with a disability. The process involves more than just finding a job for a person. Supported Employment practitioners provide various services to two key client groups:

  1. People with disabilities
  2. Employers

The Employment Advisory Committee will ensure that:

  1. Supported Employment agencies and organisations are clearly represented and have a visible presence within NZDSN.
  2. The supported employment training and qualifications are maintained and developed for supported employment practitioners.
  3. The Principles, Practice and Standards of Supported Employment are further developed through international research,  are evidence based and in collaboration with all stakeholders, for example, MSD, DPOs, Platform, Inclusive New Zealand.
  4. The employment support training and qualifications are maintained and developed for supported employment practitioners.

See here for our Terms of Reference:

NZDSN Employment Advisory Committee Terms of Reference 2015


Over the past few years, ASENZ have developed and refined the following principles of Supported Employment. These are now accepted as the core principles and are central to all aspects of Supported Employment in New Zealand.

The Principles of Supported Employment

  1. Open waged employment: Supported Employment is based in the open labour market; same rewards, same conditions as everyone else.
  2. Individualised – based upon partnership: Supported Employment services are expected to meet a client’s individual support needs (whether employer or job seeker). They fundamentally represent a partnership.
  3. Direct access to employment pathways: Supported Employment services will facilitate direct access to the labour market (optimally within 4 weeks) developing and utilizing a precise job/person match – without insistence upon prolonged “getting ready” activities or pre-vocational training.
  4. Inclusive services: socially inclusive outcomes: No clients will be “screened out” or denied service based upon a perceived severity of challenge or disadvantage.
  5. “Life match” through choices: Work is a means to an end and should complement and enhance a person’s life and well-being, and the achievement of their aspirations and potential.
  6. Ongoing workplace support: Support services and strategies are designed to achieve the best possible outcome for both employer and employee, and promote the development of natural supports, which may lead to the withdrawal of formal support services.

Strategic Direction 2016 onwards

The strategic direction will be in line with the NZDSN strategic plan. Read more here

Code of Ethics

In August 2014, a Code of Ethics and Code of Practice for Practitioners in Supported Employment Services was developed.   See the link below for this information.

NZDSN Employment Advisory Committee’s Code of Ethical Practice Edition One August 2014

The Employment Advisory Committee

The Committee Members consist of representatives from agencies/organisations that provide supported employment services

Sarah Halliday (Geneva Elevator – South Auckland) – Chair
Simon McCosh (CCT – Dunedin)
Louise Deane (Job Connect)
Linda Fisher (Emerge)
Karen Taylor (IDEA Services – Whangarei)
Mike Fisher (PACT – Lower Hutt)

Any queries regarding Employment Support should be referred to the NZDSN Office Manager admin@nzdsn.org.nz Tel – 04 473 4678.  Should you wish to contact any of these members directly, please ask our team at NZDSN for contact details.

Meet Our Team

Mike Fisher

Pact Group
Lower Hutt

Mike has spent nearly 20 years in the training, career consultation, employment vocational rehabilitation fields, and currently is the Employment Specialist Team Coordinator at PACT in Lower Hutt.
PACT provides support for people with intellectual, mental or physical disabilities, or alcohol, drug or gambling problems.  They employ approximately 450 staff, providing services in Otago, Southland, the West Coast and Wellington.

He has previously worked in the public service and NGO sectors including for disability providers such as Workbridge and Emerge.

Mike has a Diploma in Career Guidance and is a Professional member of the Career Development Association of NZ and is currently the Chairperson of the Petone Community Board.
Sarah Halliday

Geneva Elevator
South Auckland

Chair for the Employment Advisory Committee and General Manager of Geneva Elevator a relatively new venture between Geneva Healthcare and the Elevator Group who provide several disability support services throughout NZ.

Sarah has worked in the Disability sector for over 25 years including management roles in Workbridge, Job Connections and CRM (ACC) in Hawkes Bay.  She has worked for the Elevator Group for over 10 years in a variety of roles and has been on the Board of the Employment Advisory Committee (previously ASENZ) for several years.

Louise Deane

Job Connect

Louise has a background in Law and Psychology. She has been working with people to realise their vocational goals for over 15 years, initially in London working with deprived communities and people who experience sensory and physical disabilities.

Working with Comcare Jobconnect for 11 years, Louise has gained a good understanding of the issues for Supported Employment Providers in New Zealand and specific for those who live with mental illness and addictions. She is currently a Service Manager for the Jobconnect Supported Employment Service.

Louise is passionate about Supported Employment and believes in the work of NZDSN to maintain and promote Supported Employment as a discipline.

Linda Fisher


I have been working with Emerge Supported Employment Trust since 2000 (apart from an 18-month interlude where I tutored a supported learning course in community and employment skills at Whitireia Polytechnic), leading a small team of supported employment and transition consultants.  Emerge is a charitable trust and holds a national contract for supported employment and transition services in Wellington. We provide an all-disability service and have a particular interest in young people transitioning from school to the wider community. We continually search for new, effective and creative ways to meet the needs of people who come to our service.

Karen Taylor

IDEA Services

Karen was born in South Africa and worked for financial and IT organisations, mainly in their public relations and communications groups, Her most memorable position was with a financial organisation that helped disadvantaged people, in KwaZulu Natal, start SMM Enterprises and/or purchase and manage their own farms.

Karen moved to New Zealand in 2002 and works as a Service Manager, for Idea Services in Whangarei, and has managed Vocational and Supported Employment teams since 2007.

She completed the ASENZ Employment Support Diploma in 2010 and is an Assessor for Careerforce since completing the Diploma.

Karen joined the Employment Committee in 2015.

Simon McCosh


Simon has a background in education, the arts, and has been with CCT supporting people with learning disabilities and/or Autism in Dunedin for nearly 10 years.

CCT is a charitable trust that supports 260 people across Otago and Southland and Simon’s role is Service Manager for Supported Employment, Transition, and Community Participation managing a team of 10 staff.  Being on the Employment Advisory Committee allows Simon to be a conduit to the local NZDSN Supported Employment Provider’s Forum that he chairs and provides the opportunity to promote and represent supported employment as a service he feels very passionately about. Micro Enterprise Start-Ups are two areas of particular interest.


Margaret Reilly


Margaret is originally from a small town on the west coast of Scotland where she was a youth worker. She completed her social work degree in Glasgow and moved to NZ in the late 80’s.  Since then she has been involved in the health and disability sector for a number of years in a variety of roles.

Margaret has been with Poly-Emp employment and Advisory service for over 10 years. Poly-Emp is quite a unique service as they have a partnership relationship with two  Education providers ( MIT and Unitec in Auckland). They provide employment services for students with learning disabilities who complete a certificate in Employment Skills.