Employment services for people with disability

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring people with disability, injury or a health condition have equal opportunities to gain employment. There are a range of employment programs that support people with disability who need, or would like, help to find and maintain employment. Employers can also access free help to recruit, support and retain employees with disability.

Disability Employment Services (DES)

Disability Employment Services (DES) is the main employment service for people with disability, injury and/or health condition. The current DES program will run until 30 June 2025 when a new specialist disability employment program will commence.

People with disability may be eligible for one of two different parts of the DES program:

  • Disability Management Service is for job seekers with disability, injury or health condition who need assistance to find a job and occasional support in the workplace to keep a job.
  • Employment Support Service is for job seekers with permanent disability who need help to find a job and who need regular, ongoing support in the workplace to keep a job.

Providers of DES — called DES providers— are a mix of large, medium and small for-profit and not-for-profit organisations experienced in supporting people with disability, as well as helping employers to support employees with disability in the workplace.

To find a DES provider:

DES providers can help those looking for work to:

  • get ready to work
  • train in specific job skills
  • write a resume
  • practice interview skills
  • look for jobs that suit them.

Once in a job, DES providers can help with specific on-the-job training and support that suits the participants' needs. This includes help under the Work Assist program. Work Assist provides support to eligible employees who have difficulty fulfilling the essential requirements of their role due to their injury, disability or health condition. A DES provider will work with the Work Assist participant and their employer to provide support that maximises the chance of maintaining employment.

Support for participants

The DES program gives participants flexibility and choice in the services they receive and how they receive them. A DES participant information pack is available for participants, providing information to support making informed choices on their employment journey. The participant information pack contains frequently asked questions (FAQ) fact sheets. View the DES participant information pack.

Support for employers

DES providers offer recruitment support and guidance to employers. This may include help to:

  • post job vacancies
  • shortlist candidates
  • interview people with a disability
  • access available financial support (if eligible).

Information for providers

Operational information for DES providers is available.

Disability Employment reforms

As part of the 2024–25 Budget, the Government announced a number of measures that will improve employment and career outcomes of people with disability, injury or illness.

A new specialist disability employment program

A new specialist disability employment program will replace the current DES program from 1 July 2025.

The new program will focus on assisting people with disability to find and maintain sustainable employment. It will improve the quality of service for participants by ensuring the support provided is tailored to their circumstances. There will be a greater focus on quality providers, with staff and leadership that reflects the diversity of the communities they are working with. Providers will place clients and employers at the centre of their service design and build meaningful relationships with both clients and employers.

In line with the new specialist disability employment program, The National Panel of Assessors program will continue to deliver assessment services from 1 July 2025.

Disability Employment Centre of Excellence

A Disability Employment Centre of Excellence (Centre of Excellence) is being established to develop best practice, evidence-based information to help providers deliver high-quality effective employment services and supports to improve disability employment outcomes. The Centre of Excellence will support the introduction of the new specialist disability employment program from 1 July 2025.

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service and Hotline

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS) and Hotline will be continued to 31 December 2026. Through continued support for the Hotline and CRRS, the Government is keeping in place a robust complaints framework that protects the rights and safety of people with disability. This will ensure continued coverage and support for people with disability with concerns or complaints, while the Government considers future arrangements in the context of the broader reforms within the disability sector, including the response to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Review.

Fact sheets

Further information about reforms to disability employment announced as part of the 2024- 25 Budget is available in the following factsheets:

Supported Employment

Supported employment refers to jobs where people with high support needs (i.e. those who, because of their disabilities, need substantial ongoing support to obtain and/or keep paid employment) can receive extra support while they are at work.

If an individual is eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), supports for employment could be funded through their NDIS Plan. Further information about supported employment under the NDIS, including information on the pricing framework, are on the NDIS website.

Participants can use their supported employment funding in any workplace they choose, including mainstream employment, social enterprises, micro-businesses, or supported employment services (including those traditionally known as Australian Disability Enterprises or ADEs).

The Supported Wage System (SWS) is set up for employees with disability who are not able to perform jobs at the same capacity as any other employee. Under SWS, special workplace arrangements are created so that employers can pay wages to a person with disability based on how productive they are in their job. 

An employer or DES provider may make an application under the SWS. The SWS assessment will be conducted by an independent assessor. 

Disability Employment Services (DES) Performance Framework

The Government has developed a new DES Performance Framework (Performance Framework) to measure provider performance. It came into effect from 1 July 2024, and replaces previous DES Performance Frameworks and measures.

Under the new Performance Framework, providers will be assessed against key performance measures. These measures include the DES Quality Framework.

The Performance Framework will help improve:

  • provider performance
  • the quality of services delivered 
  • employment outcomes for participants.

Read more about the Performance Framework.

DES Quality Framework

In July 2023, the Australian Government announced a new Disability Employment Services (DES) Quality Framework. The Framework is designed to ensure the delivery of high quality, tailored services for people with disability. It will ensure providers are listening and responding to the needs of individuals and employers to drive meaningful and sustained quality improvement.

Following the release of the Framework the Department has continued to consult with providers, peaks, and disability representative organisations to inform and support implementation and development. The Framework has been updated to support this development.

DES Quality Guidelines complement the Framework. The Guidelines formalise the rating approach and frequency to inform provider quality assessments.

A factsheet has been developed summarising the Framework and is available in Easy Read.

  • DES Quality Framework
  • DES Quality Guidelines (The DES Quality Guidelines have been temporarily removed to add additional accessibility features.)

Easy Read version of the DES Quality Framework – Fact sheet

National Panel of Assessors

The National Panel of Assessors (NPA) program provides independent assessments to support people with disability in the workplace. NPA providers conduct the following: 

  • Ongoing Support: to ensure that DES clients receive the ongoing support they need in the workplace to keep their job. 
  • Supported Wage System: to determine productivity-based wages for eligible people with disability. 
  • Workplace Modifications Services: to assess the suitability of modifications (such as equipment or assistive technology) that will support people with disability in the workplace. 

From 1 July 2025, in line with the new specialist disability employment program, NPA providers will continue to deliver these assessment services.

A list of current organisations that deliver NPA is available.

Information for providers

Operational information for NPA providers is available.


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

JobAccess provides free, confidential and accessible information and advice through the JobAccess website and a telephone advice line. It offers help and workplace solutions for people with disability and employers.

JobAccess also plays a coordinating role with the National Panel of Assessors to conduct free workplace assessment, and advise on workplace modifications and support which may be eligible for reimbursement through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF).

The EAF gives financial help to eligible people with disability and mental health conditions and their employers to buy work related modifications, equipment, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) services and workplace assistance and support services. The EAF is available to eligible people with disability who are about to start a job, are self-employed or who are currently working. It is also available to people with disability who need Auslan assistance or special work equipment to look for and prepare for a job.

Under JobAccess, a National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) can offer assistance to employers across Australia to:

  • increase their knowledge of support available through DES
  • implement employment practices
  • provider disability and training for staff.

More information on support available for staff with disability is available the JobAccess website. Employers can also call JobAccess Advisor on 1800 464 800 to connect with a National Panel of Assessor provider or NDRC account manager (if eligible).

Workforce Australia Employment Services

Workforce Australia is the employment service delivered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. It includes an online service and a network of providers that deliver support to job seekers on income support, including those with disability, to find a job or create their own job.

Employers can post current vacancies and all Australians can search and apply for jobs on the Workforce Australia website.

As part of Workforce Australia, Self-Employment Assistance can help participants turn their business idea, or existing small business, into a viable business. The program allows participants to choose the level of support that meets their needs and the needs of their business.

More information about Workforce Australia is available on the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations website.

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