Supported Employment

Supported employment refers to jobs where people with disability can receive extra support while they are at work. 

About Supported Employment

Supported employment services are those which support the paid employment of people with disabilities. These services support people:

  • for whom competitive employment (at or above the relevant award wage) is unlikely; and
  • who, because of their disabilities, need substantial ongoing support to obtain or keep paid employment.

Many supported employment services are known as Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs).

ADEs are generally not-for-profit organisations that play an important role in providing supported employment opportunities. They employ people with disability with high support needs across Australia.

ADEs offer similar working conditions to other employers and an opportunity for people with disability to contribute and connect to their local community. ADEs provide a wide range of employment opportunities including packaging, assembly, production, recycling, screen-printing, plant nursery, garden maintenance and landscaping, cleaning services, laundry services and food services.

Finding a supported employment provider

You can find a supported employment provider through:

  • BuyAbility website: This site allows purchasers to find, and engage services of supported employment organisations. You can search listed organisations by name, location, or business type. National Disability Services manages this site.
  • 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 ‘Specialised Supported Employment’.

Organisations need to be registered NDIS service providers to deliver supported employment services.

Funding for supported employment

Prior to the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), ADEs were funded to provide employment for people with high support needs through the Australian Government’s Disability Employment Assistance (DEA) program. The DEA program ceased on 31 March 2021.

Since 1 July 2020, ADEs and other supported employment services have claimed funding from NDIS participant plans.

Further information about supported employment under the NDIS can be found on the NDIS website, including information on the pricing framework and NDIS eligibility requirements.

Disability Employment Continuity of Support (DECoS)

The DECoS program provides funding for supports and services that enable supported employees who 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. The DECoS program commenced on 1 April 2021 and will run to 30 June 2023.

Further information regarding DECoS can be found on the Resources pages.

Supported employee wages

Wages for the majority of supported employees are calculated using wage assessment tools under the Supported Employment Services Award 2020 (the Award).

On 21 December 2022, the FWC handed down a determination, with significant changes to the Award commencing from 30 June 2023. The key changes are that the Supported Wage System (SWS), administered by the department, will be the only wage assessment tool available under the Award. The FWC have also introduced two new wage classifications (Grades A and B) to account for the tailored work undertaken by supported employees.

The FWC has set a period of three years for supported employment services to transition to the new Award. This transitional period will enable all SWS assessments to be conducted for those employees currently assessed using an alternative wage tool.

The department will work with key stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the changes.

For further information on the review of the Award, visit the FWC's website, or view the Award here.

Quality standards for supported employment services 

As NDIS providers, ADEs are audited against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rules 2018 (NDIS Rules).

Supported Employment Roundtable

On 10 October 2022, the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, held a Supported Employment Roundtable (the roundtable) with state and territory disability ministers, people with disability, family representatives, ADE representatives, peak bodies and other sector experts in attendance.

Attendees shared views and experiences, and agreed on a set of guiding principles for the future of supported employment (for people with disability with high employment support needs). All disability ministers have agreed to the guiding principles.

Disability Ministers have also agreed to officials from each jurisdiction working together with Commonwealth officials, in consultation with the disability sector, on a plan to support the transition of the sector and meaningful employment of people with disability.

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.

Resources and useful links

Supported Employment - Resources and useful links

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