5 Disability employment supports in Australia

If you’re living with a disability and looking for work or need help to stay in your job, support is available. Whether you’re getting back to work after an injury, looking for a suitable job or need help accessing special equipment, there are many disability employment supports and services in Australia.

1. Disability Employment Services

Disability Employment Services is a government funded program which helps people living with injury, illness or disability find and keep a job.

The program is delivered by local providers such as APM. You can choose which provider you want to go with.

Your provider can help you with things like:

  • Career advice
  • Finding suitable jobs for people with injury, illness or disability
  • Writing your resume and cover letter
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Ongoing workplace support
  • Accessing mental health services
  • Funding for things like uniforms and transport
  • Workplace assessments and modifications

You can access Disability Employment Services through a recommendation from Centrelink or by registering directly with a provider.

To be eligible for Disability Employment Services, you must be: 

  • an Australian resident or a Temporary Protection Visa holder
  • aged between 14 and 65 years old
  • able to work 8-30 hours per week
  • Receiving an income support payment, disability support pension, an NDIS participant or an eligible school leaver
  • not studying full time (unless you are an eligible school leaver)
  • Not already working at or above your assessed work capacity

2. School Leaver Employment Supports

School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) is designed to help young people living with disability transition from school to work. 

The specific type of support can vary depending on the student and their employment goals. Examples include:

  • Finding work experience opportunities
  • Accessing training and education
  • Developing employment skills such as time management and following instructions
  • Financial skills
  • Building independence

To be eligible for SLES, you have to be a current or eligible NDIS participant. 

Most participants are eligible for a maximum of 2 years of support through SLES. They may then be eligible to transition to Disability Employment Services.

3. Work Assist

If you’re having trouble coping at work due to injury, illness or disability, you could be eligible for Work Assist.

Work Assist is delivered by Disability Employment Services providers. Your provider will work together with you and your employee, or separately with you, to find solutions so you can keep working.

Support through Work Assist may include:

  • Advice about redesigning your job
  • Workplace assessments 
  • Accessing workplace modifications and special equipment
  • Accessing professional services like physiotherapy, counselling, pain management and occupational therapy

To be eligible for Work Assist, you must be currently employed and have worked 8 hours or more per week on average for 13 weeks in a row. You must also meet the Disability Employment Services eligibility requirements.

4. National Disability Insurance Scheme

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) helps people living with a permanent and significant disability to access the right support and services to help them achieve their goals.

This can include employment supports and services to help participants who need ongoing, day-to-day support to stay in work. In general, employment supports funded by the NDIS are more than an employer or Disability Employment Services can provide.

To be eligible for the NDIS, you have to be living with a lifelong disability that impacts your ability to carry out daily tasks, such as self-care, mobility, working or participating in your community.

You will need to provide medical evidence when you apply for the NDIS. Section 2 of the application form should be filled out by a treating medical professional.

Find out more: How to access the NDIS.

5. Payments / Income support

If you are living with disability and looking for work, you may be eligible for a number of payments such as the Job Seeker Payment, Disability Support Pension and Mobility Allowance.

JobSeeker Payment

The Job Seeker Payment is a fortnightly payment for people who are unemployed and looking for work or who can’t work right now because of an injury or illness.

How much you can get depends on your situation. Factors like how much your partner earns, your income and assets and whether you have children can affect the payment amount.

Disability Support Pension

The Disability Support Pension is a payment for people living with a disability that stops them from working or reduces the number of hours they can work.

You can still be getting some income and receiving the pension, but the more income you earn, the smaller the payment will be. 

To be eligible, you need to meet a number of medical and non-medical rules. You may also need to undergo a Program of Support, such as Disability Employment Services, to be eligible for the disability pension.

Mobility Allowance

The Mobility Allowance helps cover travel costs for work, study or if you’re looking for work. It is for people with an injury, illness or disability who can’t use public transport without a lot of help.

To be eligible, you will need a medical report from a treating professional explaining that you can’t use public transport without a lot of help. You can’t get the mobility allowance if you already get funded support from the NDIS.

Not sure where to start?

If you need help finding work, keeping a job or getting income support but don’t know where to start, try calling the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787.The Disability Gateway is for all people with disability, the family of people with disability and carers.

You can also call an NDIS Local Area Coordinator. Even if you aren’t eligible for the NDIS, they can help you find local supports and services that you are eligible for.

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