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Most school leavers with disability will go directly to employment, vocational education and training, or higher education. The various options can be confusing. IDEAS has pulled a range of options. Read them here.

You, (or the person you are caring for), are quickly reaching the end of your time at school and the next stage can be daunting: “what am I going to do when I leave school?”

Most school leavers with disability will go directly to employment, vocational education and training, or higher education. The various options can be confusing. The following is a range of options that exist for you, you can choose between the quick links or read through the full article:

Post School Education
Open Employment
Supported Employment
Day Programs
Community Day Centres
Community Participation
Transition Programs
Funds and Supports

Post School Education

There are a number of post-school education options, including:

  • University
  • TAFE – Technical and Further Education
  • VET – Vocational Education and Training – VET skills and training are directly related to a particular type of work and/or industry with some courses being designed for people with disability, however, the course that you choose should be one that you are interested in, matches your abilities and one that you have a decision in completing, not just enrolling because you have a disability. For a full directory of Australia’s training courses and organisations, visit the MySkills website to check out the options in your area.
  • Registered Training Organisations – RTO – these are training organisations that are registered with the Australian Skills Quality Authority to deliver VET programs
  • Apprenticeships/Traineeships – qualifications are acquired through on-the-job training with an employer and also TAFE classroom-based learning

Open Employment

This is when you are employed in the open labour market. You can be employed through a number of channels including:

  • When you carry out your own job searches and apply directly to employers
  • You use the services of a recruitment agency to help you to find a job
  • You use your own networks like friends and family, to assist you in getting a job

Disability Employment Services - Disability Employment Services (DES) helps people with disability to find work and keep a job. They are paid by the government to provide employment support and services. It works by connecting people with disability to prospective employers. They get to know the skills, qualifications, prior work experience and goals of people with disability to help them to find a suitable job.

  • Once a person with disability has been placed in a job, DES will provide employment support for at least 26 weeks (but it can be longer if required).
  • You can find a list of Disability Employment Service providers in your area, visit the jobactive website. 

Job Access - JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers.

  • It was created by the Australian Government and helps people with disability to find and keep jobs, get promoted to better jobs, get financial and other support and expand their workplace skills.
  • JobAccess can also help employers understand the benefits of employing people with disability, get financial support for employing people with disability, and develop disability employment strategies.
  • The website has a range of information such as:
    • Financial support for workplace modifications and wage subsidies
    • Recruitment tips for applying for a job and taking on an employee with disability
    • Links to education and training programmes
    • Rights and responsibilities for both people with disability and employers
    • Tools and resources for employers
    • How to create a flexible work environment
  • The JobAccess website is www.jobaccess.gov.au or call 1800 464 800

Supported Employment

This where you use the assistance of a support worker with your employment. Supported employment opportunities are generally provided by Australian Disability Enterprises.

The following are useful links that provide tips and information about Disability Enterprises:

Day Programs

Day programs run by disability service providers or community organisations are largely programs with a recreational focus intended to help people with disability participate in the community, or with a focus on independent life-skills such as cooking or using public transport. These can be based in a centre or enable people to access the broader community individually or in groups.

Community Day Centres

Centres run by community organisations and disability service providers for people with disability to participate in group activities such as music, cooking or crafts. Activities are often based solely at the centre.


Unpaid work for a non-profit or community organisation for a person to pursue an interest and connect with the local community, or with businesses to gain work experience

Community Participation

The Community Participation program helps young people with disability to develop the skills they need to work towards their goals, increase their independence and participate in their community.

Community Participation is for young people with disability with moderate to very high support needs who need an alternative to paid employment or further education in the medium or longer term.

There are four levels of funding known as ‘funding bands’ in Community Participation. These are moderate, high, very high and exceptional.

The hours received can vary depending on how the individual’s plan is implemented and how the funding is managed. Hours of support are linked to the individual plan and will depend on the activities chosen and the support needs of each individual.

Transition Programs and Initiatives

If you are unsure about what you would like to do when you leave school, you may wish to look at a transitioning program or initiative.

Transition to Work Program

The Transition to Work Program is a two-year program aiming to achieve employment for young people with moderate to high disability needs. The aim of the Program is to develop an individual’s skills and/or qualifications to successfully secure and sustain employment.

There are certain criteria that need to be met to make you eligible for the Program:

  • You have moderate to high support needs
  • You have an intellectual, psychiatric, physical or sensory disability
  • You are leaving school having competed Year 12, or are making a request for early (over 17 years), or late entry processes
  • You are not undertaking full time paid employment, full time vocational or full time higher education
  • You are a resident of NSW 

The Program is structured to support your move to employment and involves the following components:

  • An initial planning meeting and ongoing, regular reviews
  • Work-focused skill development
  • Work sampling and job trials
  • Specific job or career-related training
  • Support to build a working lifestyle

School Leaver Employment Support

The School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) is a new NDIS funded employment support for Year 12 students to enable young people with disability to become economically independent.

Individualised support is offered for up to two years after finishing Year 12 to help you develop skills and confidence to find and keep a job. This support is only relevant if you are registered with the NDIS. SLES is tailored to the employment goals outlined in your NDIS plan. These may include work experience, job skills training and specific travel training such as commuting to and from work experience.

SLES is supplied through a service provider (the same scenario for other aspects of your NDIS plan). Once the SLES has concluded, it is then up to Disability Employment Services to continue to support you with your employment goals.

Visit the website for more information on SLES.

National Work Experience Programme

Part of jobactive (a government initiative to get more Australians into work), is the National Work Experience Programme which places job-ready seekers in real-life work experience placements. There, you can gain skills experience and confidence to move into work, whilst giving back to your community.

The programme provides unpaid placements for up to four weeks, to a maximum of 25 hours per week. For more information, visit: National Work Experience Program.

The Community Development Programme

The Community Development Programme is designed to support job seekers in remote Australia to build skills, address barriers and contribute to their communities through a range of flexible activities.

Job seekers are expected to do up to 25 hours per week of work-like activities that benefit their community.

Do you live in remote Australia and looking to find out more information? Visit: Indigenous Affairs Community Development Program.

Vocational, Training and Employment Centres (VTECs)

Vocational, Training and Employment Centres (VTECs) connect Indigenous job seekers with guaranteed jobs and bring together the support services necessary to prepare job seekers for long-term employment

VTECs are open to Indigenous job seekers and school leavers and will prioritise highly disadvantaged Indigenous job seekers.

Are you an Indigenous jobseeker? For more information visit: Indigenous Affairs Employment Vocational Training and Employment Centres. 

Funds and Supports

There are certain funds, supports and allowances that you may be eligible for, depending on your individual circumstances.

Mobility Allowance

If you manage to secure employment, there is an allowance scheme called Mobility Allowance which is a regular payment to help with essential travel costs if you have a medical condition that means that you can’t use public transport.

You may be eligible for this payment if:

  • You are aged 16 years or older
  • You can’t use public transport without a lot of help
  • You have a disability
  • You need to travel for work, study, training or to look for work

You should bear in mind that if you have a plan with the NDIS you will no longer be eligible for this payment. However, you may be eligible for a Health Care Card which provides certain concessions. The money that you receive may differ between States and Territories so you will need to check with your local government.

For more information on the Mobility Allowance, visit the Department of Human Services website.

Employment Assistance Fund

There are funds available if you need workplace modifications and equipment to help you to do your job.

The Employment Assistance Fund can be used for the following:

  • Workplace modifications and equipment, such as assistive technology, electronic and communication equipment
  • Communications technology devices
  • Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreting
  • Computer software and software upgrades
  • Specialised support and training packages
  • Modifications to work motor vehicles; and
  • Specialist support for people with mental health conditions or learning disorders.


Quick Links

Information sourced from Transition to Work, Program Guidelines, Family & Community Services for Ageing, Disability and Home Care, About Disability Employment Services Information Sheet, About JobAccess Information Sheet, Department of Human Services website, National Work Experience Programme – Information, Funding Available for People with Disability Information Sheet, School Leavers Employment Support Information Booklet Updated April 2017, Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC) Factsheet, CDA Post School Transition Report

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