Supported Employment - Frequently Asked Questions

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About Supported Employment Frequently Asked Questions Resources

Supported employment plays a vital role in improving the social and economic participation of many
people with disability in Australia.

How can I find a supported employment provider?

Here are two simple ways you can find a supported employment provider:

  • The BuyAbility website(link is external) is an online compendium managed by National Disability Services that helps purchasers identify and engage the services of organisations that employ people with disability. On the BuyAbility website, you can search supported employment providers by name, location, or business type
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has a list of supported employment providers that are registered as NDIS providers. You can filter within the provider list by type of registration groups - ADEs are listed as ‘Spec Support Employ’.

How does an organisation deliver supported employment services?

Organisations that wish to deliver supported employment services should register to become a service provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

What was the Disability Employment Assistance (DEA) program?

The DEA program enabled funding to be provided by the Department of Social Services to Australian Disability Enterprises to support the employment of individuals with moderate to severe disability, known as supported employees. The DEA program ceased on 31 March 2021.

The Disability Employment Continuity of Support (DECoS) program provides funding for supports and services that enable supported employees who, as at 31 March 2021, were funded under the DEA program, and are ineligible for the NDIS (due to their age, residency, citizenship or disability type) to participate in and retain employment.

Does the Department of Social Services (the department) fund supported employment?

The majority of supported employees have now transitioned to the NDIS, with Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) claiming funding from NDIS participant plans.

On 1 July 2020, the National Disability Insurance Agency introduced a new pricing framework for Supports in Employment that outlines how ADEs can claim from participant plans.

For more information, visit the NDIA website.

What happened to Disability Employment Assistance (DEA) clients that are ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The majority of supported employees have now transitioned to the NDIS, with Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) claiming funding from NDIS participant plans.

On 1 July 2020, the National Disability Insurance Agency introduced a new pricing framework for Supports in Employment that outlines how ADEs can claim from participant plans.

For more information, visit the NDIA website.

The department funds the Disability Employment Continuity of Support (DECoS) program, which provides funding for supports and services that enable supported employees who, as at 31 March 2021, were funded under the Disability Employment Assistance program, and are ineligible for the NDIS (due to their age, residency, citizenship or disability type) to participate in and retain employment.

How are wages determined for supported employees?

The majority of employees working with supported employment providers are employed under the Supported Employment Services Award 2020 (the Award). Under the Award, supported employees can be paid a wage as calculated by a number of wage assessment tools.

As part of its four yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is currently reviewing the Award. On 3 December 2019, the FWC released a preliminary decision on the review of the Award and outlined a number of proposed changes.

At the request of the FWC, the Department of Social Services agreed to undertake a trial, to test the practicality and cost impact of the proposed changes on supported employment providers (the Trial).

The Trial was undertaken between March and August 2021 and the Final Report from the Trial evaluation has been published on the FWC’s website. A final decision on the Award is a matter for the FWC.
 

What are the quality standards for supported employment services? 

Supported employment providers funded by the Department of Social Services under the Disability Employment Continuity of Support program must be independently assessed and certified as complying with the Disability Services Act (National Standards for Disability Services) Determination 2014 (NSDS). All supported employment providers must meet the requirements of the independent quality assurance system to receive funding.

On 1 April 2021, the Disability Services Act (National Standards for Disability Services) Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Determination 2021 was registered.

The amendments enable supported employment providers funded by the Department of Social Services, which are also NDIS providers, to be audited solely against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rules 2018 (NDIS Rules).

Previously, these providers were audited against both the NDIS Rules and the NSDS - two separate, but similar sets of standards.

What is the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme? 

The BSWAT Payment Scheme (the scheme) delivered a one-off compensation payment to eligible supported employees with intellectual impairment whose wages were assessed and paid using the BSWAT.

The scheme was a statutory, time-limited payment scheme established by the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Act 2015, which came into effect on 30 June 2015. The scheme ended on 31 December 2018.

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