Meaningful work experience

UnitingCare is proud to be partnering with Project SEARCH to offer internships to young adults with developmental disabilities. The nine-month program for young people aims to develop workplace skills and to secure pathways into stable and rewarding employment.

As an intern, you will develop the skills to find rewarding employment. 

Our program offers an opportunity to do the following:

  • Participate in a variety of roles
  • Build competitive, transferrable and marketable job skills
  • Increase your independence, confidence and self-esteem
  • Receive work-based coaching, instruction and feedback
  • Develop links to disability employment services following the internship.

Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH logo

The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a business-led, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace over the course of a year. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and hands-on training through worksite rotations. Project SEARCH is a non-paid internship experience.

Student interns are on site at The Wesley Hospital, St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital or BlueCare Ipswich each weekday for a minimum of six hours for an entire academic year. There will be consistent on-site staff, including a project instructor and job coaches, so interns will know who to turn to with questions.

Interns benefit from significant collaboration between the range of people and organisations involved in the program. Interns and their families, UnitingCare, The Wesley Hospital, St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital or BlueCare Ipswich, relevant schools or educational institutions and NDIS and other government agencies are all important partners in ensuring a successful experience for interns.

Work experience goals

The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help people with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to productive adult life.

The goal for each student is competitive employment at the completion of their internship. Students will be equipped for jobs in non-traditional, complex and rewarding fields of employment, working in an integrated setting (alongside co-workers with and without disabilities). This means:

  • Year-round work (not seasonal employment).
  • 18 hours a week or more.
  • At minimum wage or higher.

Project SEARCH graduates benefit from being linked with other service providers that can assist them to retain employment at the completion of the program, such as Disability Employment Services providers.

UnitingCare is proud to be the first organisation in Australia to introduce the innovative Project SEARCH program, which has its origins in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the United States. Watch the video below to find out more.

Project SEARCH

Eligibility criteria

To become a Project SEARCH intern, you must:

  • Be aged between 17- 28 years old (please do get in touch if you are over 25)
  • Have an NDIS plan that includes core or capacity building supports (minimum $30K) that can be used for the achievement of employment related goals.
  • Have independent personal hygiene, grooming and daily living skills
  • Be able to take direction and communicate effectively in a workplace setting
  • Be able to pass Criminal History and drug screen checks
  • Have the desire, family support and plan to work in the open labour market at the conclusion of the Project SEARCH program
  • Have completed year 12 before commencing the internship
  • Have access to reliable transportation.

Previous experience in a work environment (work experience, volunteer or paid work) is highly desirable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If I’m interested in participating in Project SEARCH, what should I do?

    Fill out the enquiry form below to get in contact.

    The Project SEARCH Team Leader is Cameron Williams who can be contacted directly on 0429 554 434 or by emailing

  • What does it mean to be a Project SEARCH Intern?

    An intern is a student who has been accepted into the Project SEARCH program, has a strong desire to work, has no behavioural/ attendance concerns and is eager to gain employment through a work experience. Students in the program will be referred to as interns by sponsoring parties as well as co-workers during the program. They will be expected to participate in The Wesley Hospital or Blue Care Ipswich’s work culture and do their best to uphold their vision and mission and adhere to all relevant policies and procedures.

  • Why is the internship considered to be a student’s last year of school?

    The goal of Project SEARCH is to provide interns with marketable and transferable skills that lead to employment. Interested students should anticipate earning employment opportunities once they have completed their internship experience.

  • What schedule will student interns follow with Project SEARCH?

    Schedules for each Project can be supplied upon request.

  • What are the daily hours for interns of Project SEARCH?

    Generally the day starts at 8:30am and finishes at 3pm.

  • How do student interns get to Project SEARCH each day?

    Interns are responsible for their own transportation either through personal or public transportation. Project SEARCH does not provide transportation.

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