WISE Story and Timeline

WISE started in West Melbourne in 1992 as a not-for-profit employment agency for people with a disability.

Our staff now provide cost-free advice, training and support to transition more than 10,000 job seekers into jobs and related services each year. We have almost 100 office locations across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Job seeker employment services

We understand everyone has unique needs and circumstances. Some of our clients have been out of work for a short time; others have experienced long-term unemployment. We tailor our support and services to move people out of poverty toward safe and stable employment, housing, health and independence.

Our cost-free services are provided under the Federal Government’s jobactive and Disability Employment Services employment programs.

Read more about Job Seekers.

Employer recruitment services

We spend time getting to know employers, understanding their recruitment needs and supporting them with workers from diverse backgrounds who are often highly skilled and experienced. We also help employers learn about wage incentives to help with the cost of employing our job seekers.

Read about Employers.

Community projects

Since 2001, we have invested $3.5 million into innovative projects and programs for youth, refugees and Indigenous communities. We also operate three socially inclusive social enterprises.

We work closely with government and community agencies, local industry and training organisations to achieve the best results for our clients. We believe the entire community is enriched when everyone is supported to achieve their potential.

WISE Timeline

We believe everyone in the community has the right to work. Our tailored employment programs, initiatives and workshops help move all people, regardless of their personal challenges, into a job. The following timeline highlights the milestones in our journey:


  • John Bateup and Sue Ranking founded WISE Employment to operate as an employment agency in Victoria for people with an intellectual disability.


  • WISE Employment begins to provide services under what is now known as the jobactive program in Victoria.


  • WISE Employment expands its services from three to ten offices across Melbourne.


  • WISE Employment creates the Community Investment Division to reinvest 20 percent of our annual surplus into community projects.


  • The Community Investment Division begins the ‘Make it Work’ program to support reintegration into the community of those with a criminal record and runs to 2006 having supported 336 voluntary participants.


  • WISE Employment becomes a nationally registered training organisation.
  • WISE becomes the major sponsor of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Employment program, enhancing our links to the refugee and asylum seeker community.


  • WISE Employment begins the ‘Bridging the Gap’ program in Victoria, an intensive post-release support program for high-risk offenders, which ran for 11 years.


  • WISE Employment welcomes social enterprises Clean Force Property Services VIC, Equity Intowork, and ELS into its team.
  • WISE merges with JobMatch to expand into disability employment in Tasmania.


  • The Skills2Work program is launched, assisting young people with a disability into training and preparation for employment.
  • WISE Employment merges with Active Employment to begin operating in NSW.


  • WISE Employment launches its Occupational Rehabilitation services and WISE Personal Helpers and Mentors service (PHaMs).


  • WISE Employment launches WISE Ability, a UK employment service in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.


  • WISE expands into the Northern Territory with the jobactive employment program.


  • Incito Maintenance, a WISE Employment social enterprise, begins operations in VIC.
  • WISE launches DiversityWISE, a program for new migrants in Darwin.


  • WISE Employment runs a community initiative in Melbourne – WISE Stand Up For Mental Health – providing comedy training and a live stand-up show for people who have a mental illness.


  • WISE Employment merges with Interwork to deliver disability employment and training services in South Australia.
  • Clean Force Property Services merges with another social enterprise, Magic Green Clean (AMES), to expand cleaning services in Victoria.
  • WISE Stand Up for Mental Health community initiative runs for a second consecutive year, this time in Sydney.


  • WISE Employment begins an NDIS pilot program for young people with a disability in Tasmania.


  • Clean Force opens its business in NSW with early contracts including NSW Government and Wentworth Park
  • WISE Ability launches Edison Cafe, its first UK social enterprise, and expands services in the UK with WISE Choices, an innovative specialist mental health service.


  • WISE Employment celebrates 25 years of service.
  • WISE Employment introduces Employ Your Mind (EYM) to Australia, a vocational rehabilitation program for people with mental illness, developed by key partner FEAT (Fife Employment Access Trust) in Scotland.


  • WISE Employment begins operating under Disability Employment Services in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
  • WISE Employment launches GradWISE, a program designed to improve the graduate employment outcomes for university students living with a disability.
  • WISE Employment launches two-year WISE Ways to Work pilot, combining Employ Your Mind (EYM) with the Optimal Health Program (OHP), providing ongoing support for people who have a mental illness to achieve their vocational goals.


  • WISE Employment acquires Box Hill Institute (Disability Employment Services) and DPWS to further expand Disability Employment Services and Occupational Rehabilitation services in Victoria and South Australia.
  • WISE Employment starts providing WISE Ways to Work to NDIS participants.
  • Clean Force celebrates 10 years of cleaning and grounds contracts with Telstra
  • WISE launches The WISE Art Project, in which 56 Australian artists were commissioned to bring their masterpieces to life, demonstrating what employment means to them.


  • GradWISE is selected as winner of the Innovation in Disability Employment Award, for bridging the transition from study to work for students with disability, in the National Employment Services Association’s (NESA’s) Awards for Excellence.
  • WISE launches Rainbow WISE in Sydney, the first inclusive Australian employment program for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
  • WISE launches WISE Women in Melbourne’s South-East , an employment program for women, run by women.
  • WISE partners with Richmond AFLW, Roosters NRLW and Sunshine Coast Lightning in support of women’s sport and women’s employment outcomes.
  • WISE launches WISE Fest, a three-week festival of positivity, energy and fun – exclusively for the WISE community.


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