Avenue news


Work-based day program alternative is the ‘Avenue’ to social and economic inclusion for Western Sydney people with disability

February 12, 2024

A work-based ‘day program with a difference’ supporting Western Sydney residents with disability has expanded in Parramatta, opening a larger premises in George Street to empower even more people with tailored work-based, social and networking opportunities.

Avenue Parramatta offers skill-building work-based activities in innovative microbusiness teams. All profit generated by the microbusinesses is fully retained by the people with disability who contribute to the work in that microbusiness. This creates an opportunity to build skills, create new friendships and earn their own money, something which many people with disability are otherwise denied. Avenue team members with disability can also access an array of social events in the community, to develop skills and confidence and achieve life goals.

Already catering for more than 100 people with disability over the course of each week, in its new, larger space the service has room for 40+ more participants.

Avenue General Manager Adrian Brown said Avenue Parramatta opened four years ago, and has operated at capacity with a long waitlist for most of that time.

“We’re excited that, in this new space, we can offer our service to many new people, including all of those who have been waiting for the opportunity to gain the benefits of being a part of the Avenue program,” he said.

Avenue was created in 2011 in direct response to the experiences so many young people with disability face coming out of the school system and into their adult lives, struggling to find quality and innovative opportunities for work and continued skill development beyond the classroom.

“This was the experience of Shane O’Reilly, younger brother of Avenue Co-Founders Laura and Jordan O’Reilly, who left school in 2009. Despite Shane’s many skills and talents, the world he graduated into in his late teens saw him only in the context of his profound disability. As a consequence, the opportunities Shane was afforded as a young adult were limited to a handful of recreational pursuits, with no meaningful opportunity to work or to grow his talents,” Brown said.


“The Avenue model empowers people to come together, contribute to thriving microbusinesses, collaborate and socialise whilst fulfilling online orders for ethical retailers, distributing flyers for local businesses, pet-sitting and more. Our unique co-working setting allows people with disability the opportunity to participate in and take ownership of all aspects to do with running a microbusiness, in a fully supported space. Avenue seeks to make work accessible to all, and skill building is central to how we support them to do this.

Expanding Avenue in Parramatta to a larger, fit for purpose site has been a priority for our organisation for many years, as it’s a high need area for quality and innovative disability services. We are excited that the Avenue model, which flips the traditional model of ‘work’ on its head by redesigning traditional workflows to meet people’s abilities and support needs, can now reach more people in this area,” he said.

A focus on skill building, work tasks and community participation at Avenue Parramatta has helped Fairfield resident Robert, who lives with a disability, grow into adulthood.

Robert, 19, joined Avenue when he left school. His mum Julie had always brought him up to be fully included in family life, as part of the mainstream community.

“We’re a family unit, and it wouldn’t be right to discriminate against family members – we’re equal,” Julie said.

Julie spent years preparing for Robert’s post-school life and researching different options for him. She found what she was looking for in Avenue – Rob now attends Avenue Parramatta five days per week, spending three days in the Gigs microenterprise team doing letterbox drops and other work out in the community, and two days in Avenue’s social program.

“What was appealing is that Avenue is the only program I know in my local area that actually offers a lot of choice. Robert likes Avenue, because there’s a lot of things happening. It’s exciting, and it’s not restricted. [The participants] are very much in the community, building up skills. Avenue develops an individual learning plan for each person, I don’t know anyone else that’s doing that.

“Robert’s favourite job is doing stocktake. He loves it. He likes to count and put things in their place. He’s good at that skill. I’ll ask about his day and he’ll be very excited to tell me about stocktake. He talks about how hard he works. He has an understanding that he’s working for money, and that it’s his money. That’s a big thing for him. He knows he can spend it on things he wants. For example, if he wants some popcorn when he goes to the cinema, he’ll say ‘I’ve got my own money.’

Julie said Robert is learning and building skills through his work and also through his social outings.

“I wanted him to be more independent in the community and less reliant on family. He is learning more through others. He does have strong skills and it’s good that he can continue his learning from where he left at school through working at Avenue.


“Robert goes to Parramatta post office as part of his work with Avenue. He’s walking and going out into the community, and I can see improvement when we go out together, in his ability to look both ways before he crosses the road. As he’s dealing with the general public, for example at the post office, his communication and how he conducts himself in public is improving. He’s asking appropriate questions, he’s understanding and getting the information across. Robert’s grown up a lot this year.”

Robert and his mum Julie standing in front of the Avenue sign smiling at camera
Team member Rob sitting down with a back pack on

Robert has grown up so much, in fact he chose to move out of home – the first of his four siblings to do so. “Robert likes coming to Avenue,” Julie reflects. “He really does. The thing about people with disabilities, no one knows their potential. And you can tap into strategies that can do a lot. It’s just taking that time and extra thought. When you’ve got programs, like Avenue, that do take the time, it makes a big difference.”

Avenue now supports over 500 people with disability across four coworking spaces in Sydney and Newcastle. The new 800 sq metre Parramatta hub has quiet spaces, sensory rooms, fully accessible bathrooms and a range of other features to facilitate full participation in a variety of work tasks, engagement and learning.

Avenue is taking registrations for participants and expressions of interest for partnerships from the local business community.

Avenue is a day program alternative where people of all abilities are supported to complete work tasks, socialise and develop their individual skills, regardless of their support needs.